Lt. Gen. Eric E. Fiel, Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, congratulates Tech. Sgt. Ismael Villegas, 24th Special Operations Wing combat control recruit liaison, and Staff Sgt. Dale Young, 342nd Training Squadron combat control instructor, after being awarded Silver Stars, July 22, 2013. Villegas and Young were awarded Silver Stars for their actions against enemy forces in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)
CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF
THE SILVER STAR MEDAL
STAFF SERGEANT DALE C. YOUNG
Staff Sergeant Dale C. Young distinguished himself by heroism as a Combat Control Craftsman, 21st Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component, Special Operations Command Central while engaged in ground combat against an enemy of the United States from 19 May 2009 to 23 May 2009. During the period, Sergeant Young served as the primary Combat Control Joint Terminal Attack Controller assigned to an Army Special Forces Team. While conducting Operation SIEGE ENGINE, Sergeant Young’s element came under immediate and continuous enemy fire from the moment of infiltration and continued for the next ninety four hours. Taliban insurgents maintained stiff resistance from as close as 150 meters from Sergeant Young’s position. During the fighting, the enemy effectively utilized direct small arms fire, rocket propelled grenades and 107 millimeter rockets. Sergeant Young assumed great risk as he controlled up to eleven coalition aircraft and ensured safe and effective fires were placed on the enemy positions, while he simultaneously mitigated collateral damage. In fact on numerous occasions enemy small arms and rocket fire impacted within ten meters of Sergeant Young’s position. Sergeant Young’s calm demeanor under fire, leadership in the face of grave danger and ability to simultaneously conduct precision attacks utilizing all forms of coalition aircraft in the chaotic environment, undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous personnel and ensured the destruction of a black tar opium cache valued at more than one billion dollars. The exemplary leadership, personal endeavor and devotion duty displayed by Sergeant Young in this responsible position reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
by Mike Joseph
Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Public Affairs
8/2/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- An Air Force Special Operations combat controller stood at attention on the Forbes Hall stage at JBSA-Lackland July 22 as his citation for the Silver Star, the third highest combat medal, was recited.
Staff Sgt. Dale Young's face was expressionless, his body motionless, eyes forward, fists clenched at his side. He listened as family, friends and Battlefield Airmen, more than 500 in all, had their eyes trained on center stage while words about his gallantry in action flowed out of the auditorium' s speakers.
The reading complete, Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, Fla., pinned Young's Silver Star on his uniform and handed him his citation.
The commander then motioned for Young's immediate family to come on stage for photos.
As they gathered around the honoree, his father-in-law let out a not so subtle, "You can smile now Dale!" With that, a smile crossed the young Airman's face and the auditorium filled with laughter.
"Yeah, it did kind of (break the ice)," said Young, currently assigned to the 342nd Training Squadron at JBSA-Lackland as a combat control instructor.
Helping him overcome his nervousness on stage was a comrade-in-arms, friend and mentor. Tech. Sgt. Ismael Villegas, a fellow combat controller, and Young sat side by side during the ceremony in which Villegas also received a Silver Star, his second.
"There were a few moments where Ish and I would look at each other and whisper, 'I'm proud of you, brother,'" Young said. "(When it was over), we shook hands, he gave me a hug on stage and he told me again he was proud of me. I told him the same thing and thanked him."
Young said being awarded the Silver Star is special and surreal. To receive the honor at the same time one of his mentors became the only active-duty Airman with two Silver Stars had Young struggling to describe the moment.
"The fact that we have a history together makes it special," Young said about Villegas, who was Young's first operational supervisor after completing the combat control pipeline.
"I'm glad to be a part of his recognition," he said. "I'm proud to know him, proud to be his friend and extremely proud I got a chance to work with him. He taught me a lot of what I know. That made it extra special to me.
"He's someone I always looked up to. To stand next to him on stage is kind of indescribable; it's hard to put into words," he added. "I give credit to the guys who went before me, the guys who taught me the skills I needed and the way you act to get me where I am today. A lot of that credit can go to Sgt. Villegas."
Young's training was put to the test during a May 19-23, 2009 mission near the Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The then 25-year-old was the primary combat control joint terminal attack controller assigned to an Army Special Forces team.
The team came under immediate and continuous enemy fire from the moment of infiltration that continued for the next 94 hours. Young controlled up to 11 coalition aircraft during the engagement despite close enemy fire and grave danger (see accompanying citation)
One of the first questions at a press conference following the ceremony posed to Young was, "Did you ever doubt your survival or think you wouldn't get out?"
"From the training I received, even though I could feel rounds coming close to me and exploding near my position, I felt I was playing offense the whole time," Young said. "I had a good plan in place and I knew I had good teammates. We worked together well, not just the guys on the ground but everybody in the air.
"It's second nature to revert back to your training," he added. "Things just happen. You react, you shoot, you move, you communicate with everybody else, you pray when you get a chance. Aside from that, you're just doing what you've been trained to do."
It also meant the skills learned from all his supervisors not only resulted in mission success, but ultimately a seat next to Villegas at center stage.