Tech. Sgt. Barry Duffield awarded 2nd Bronze Star Medal
By Jenny Gordon, 78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 25, 2012
June 18, 2012 -- To say dealing with explosive devices is dangerous is an understatement. Yet, it's a daily reality for those deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Tech. Sgt. Barry Duffield, a 116th Air Control Wing Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight team leader, was recognized for his efforts with a Bronze Star Medal June 18 at the Museum of Aviation.
This is Duffield's second Bronze Star; the first was awarded for his service as an EOD team leader in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.
"It's a huge honor to be awarded a second Bronze Star, but it was a rough trip. I'm just glad that my team and I made it home - a little banged up - but alive," he said.
A former Marine Corps scout/sniper and infantry rifle squad fire team leader, Duffield also received the Air Force Combat Action Medal for his service.
While deployed to Ghazni, Afghanistan during a six-month period from 2011 to 2012, he was responsible for directing missions for seven teams, which included 28 Airmen spread across five forward operating bases. His role was NCOIC of operations for the 466th Operating Location- Alpha, EOD flight at FOB Ghazni from August 2011 to February 2012.
The goal was to neutralize threats of improvised explosive devices, providing freedom of movement for coalition forces, keeping supply routes open and saving lives, Duffield said.
He was originally deployed as an EOD team lead, but was moved up to operations NCOIC after the previous NCOIC was injured by an IED blast that struck the vehicle both men were using while on a mission.
"My vehicle was specifically targeted by the enemy using a massive, command initiated, IED that went undetected by the patrol we were on. One of my team members had his spine broken in two places and a shattered left elbow, the gunner had a skull fracture and a crushed right ankle. My driver and I were able to walk away with only minor injuries," recalled Duffield.
Under his leadership, EOD teams accomplished 225 combat missions, mitigating more than 70 IEDs.
Clearing miles of critical main supply routes, he successfully executed 52 combat missions under constant threat of attack from insurgents throughout Ghazni province. He completed 37 route clearance patrols and helped destroy more than 1,200 pounds of enemy explosives.
Among his other achievements included the discovery of a new and effective way enemies were burying IEDs, as well as displaying leadership during an ambush when he helped clear a safe path and rendered aid to wounded soldiers.
Duffield joined the Marines in 1997, later joining the Air Force Reserve in 2002. In 2004, he transferred to the Utah Air National Guard and joined the Georgia Air National Guard in 2010.
The Air National Guard EOD unit at Robins includes four full-time personnel with full-response capabilities against military, commercial and improvised explosive hazards.
"Imagine riding through enemy areas outside the wire, coming up on explosive devices, some of them 250 pounds or more. Most of us would probably turn around and not walk, but run the other way," said Maj. Gen. James B. Butterworth, Georgia National Guard adjutant general. "For those in EOD and for Tech. Sgt Duffield - he runs toward it to save lives and to save property. If that's not a hero, then we're going to have to redefine the term."