PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.-- The Air Force Space Command and Joint Force Space Component Commander Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, presented two bronze star medals, including one with valor, to a Reserve Citizen Airman from the 308th Rescue Squadron on June 14, 2019. Tech. Sgt. Nick Torres, a 308th RQS Pararescueman, was bestowed with the awards for his actions during two combat deployments to Afghanistan.
“One of the Air Force’s core values is service before self, and I can’t think of another career field where that core value is front and center as it is with (PJ’s),” said Raymond. “You go into harm’s way so that you can protect, take care of and heal those on their worst day, and you volunteered to do that.”
The citation with valor states that on March 30, 2018, Torres distinguished himself by providing medical intervention to three coalition partners while his team was under attack in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The first person wounded was located two miles away from Torres, but as soon as he reached the wounded soldier, he began to stabilize the patient and requested a medical evacuation. Torres stopped the arterial bleed and administered blood and medication to the patient. Through his advanced life-saving techniques, he was able to successfully evacuate the wounded to a higher level of care. Soon after, his team was ambushed and started taking on small arms fire and a second coalition partner was wounded.
“We all hit the deck,” Torres recalled. “I remember seeing the bulbs on the poppies getting hit as we moved through fields of them, which were in full bloom and around three feet high. Then I heard we had another casualty.”
While providing effective fire, Torres was able to reach the wounded and provide life-saving medical care. According to Torres, the injured soldier had multiple gunshot wounds to include one to the chest. The bullet perforated his lung and shattered his humerus. He required a needle decompression to stop a developing tension pneumothorax. Again, news of another casualty broke out and Torres and two Army Rangers disregarded their own safety to reach the third wounded.
Since Torres works with coalition partners from Afghanistan as a medical advisor when he is not wearing his uniform, he knew his training was going to be put to good use. Once more Torres saved the man by placing his leg in a tourniquet and administering blood to stop the devastation of the patient’s gunshot wounds.
“On the battlefield cultural barriers melt away,” Torres said. “Relationships work on trust and he knew I was going to provide him with the highest level of care.”
Thanks to the effective medical support provided by Torres, the team was able to complete their mission, which lead to the capture of nine detainees, 39 enemy killed in action and the eradication of three Improvised Explosive Devices.
“This whole experience has been very humbling,” Torres said. “These types of things don’t happen in a vacuum. I am thankful for the training I have had from my unit, supervisors and my peers. It’s such a huge group effort to make this happen and I am grateful that I was able to make a difference.”
His other Bronze Star Medal was presented for his actions during his deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Nov. 2015 through Feb. 2016. According to Chief Master Sgt. Michael Ziegler, 308th RQS Chief Enlisted Manager, having a teammate like Torres is a highly sought after asset. “Nick is one of the sharpest and most proficient medical operators in our career field,” Ziegler said. “As a part-timer in our unit, and a military contractor who frequently travels to Afghanistan, his exposure in combat medicine is unmatched. He is also one of the most humble guys here and we are fortunate to have him as one of our Citizen Airmen.”
The 308th RQS is part of the 920th Rescue Wing, which specializes in combat search and rescue around the world and is the most combat deployed wing in the Air Force Reserve. According to the 308th RQS commander, Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, our Traditional Reservists spend approximately 120 days away from their civilian employers for the opportunity to train and serve on a 60- day deployment. This is a great example of how our community employers support our national efforts.
“Over the last four years, the 308th continues to maintain a constant state of readiness to support combat operations and humanitarian relief, anytime, anywhere,” Hanks said. “Torres’ actions in combat is a perfect example of how the 920th RQW seamlessly provides combat ready forces to the combatant commander while supporting our civilian commitments.”
During the medal presentation, Gen. Raymond commented on how proud he was of Torres’ actions.
“When you go out the door you do spectacular work … thank you for the privilege of being here, being able to pin these medals on you and more importantly thank you for your selfless service,” Raymond added.
Although Torres spends many months overseas, when he’s at home in Charlottesville, Virginia, he spends his days raising four children. His favorite activities with them include fishing, hiking and kayaking. He credits his bravery to his family and his faith and says his peers would have provided the same level of care.