Bronze Star winner: Q&A with Ramstein Airman

Compiled by the KA staff

Master Sgt. Cullen Combs, U.S. Air Forces in Europe Operations Inspection division, was recently awarded the Bronze Star medal for meritorious conduct during operations in Iraq.

According to the official commendation, “The impact of the data provided, expert analysis and training conducted by Master Sgt. Combs is immeasurable; and the effects will extend beyond his tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

Sergeant Combs recently shared his award experiences with the KA.

KA: How did you feel when you found out you were to receive the Bronze Star?

Sergeant Combs: It was a great honor and surprise to me.  It was presented to me the night I was leaving (from downrange).

***image1***Where were you deployed to?

I was deployed to Contingency Operation Base Speicher, Iraq.

What was your role there?

I was the NCOIC of a sensitive intelligence program that allowed Multi-National Division-North to conduct counter-improvised explosive device operations throughout the region. I built numerous target packages that directly actioned insurgent and terrorist targets.

I pushed these down to the brigade combat teams and they actioned most of my recommendations within 24 to 48 hours. I built and coordinated numerous time sensitive target packages where IED emplacement activity was taking place, real time.

I would recommend road closure and a quick reaction force would go out and engage IED emplacers. This allowed us to save U.S. and Iraqi lives by getting these IEDs, terrorists and insurgents off the street before harm came to U.S. personnel.

What were some of the defining moments of your deployment?

Knowing that I just helped save American lives was the absolute defining moment(s) of my deployment. I became totally into what I was doing. No days off, 12- to 18-hour days, every day, holidays, etc. I even submitted a target package on Christmas: war doesn’t stop for Christmas. Knowing that I was directly affecting getting insurgents and terrorists off the streets was a great feeling.

Describe the relationship with your Army counterparts:

I was one of three Air Force intelligence specialists that worked in the MND-N Analysis and Control Element. It was an interesting experience. They brought us in as one of their own and I learned a lot about how the Army works.

Did you feel their attitude toward you as an Airman changed from day one to your final day with them?

It sure did. I was going into it very defensively. I really didn’t know what to expect.  But when I left, I was part of their team and was glad to be a part of it.