Technical Sergeant Tavis Delaney
In March 2011, Technical Sergeant Tavis Delaney deployed to Forward Combat Outpost
Kalagush, Laghman Province, Afghanistan, serving as a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC). On
the morning of May 25, Sergeant Delaney received less than an hour’s notice to prepare himself
and his apprentice for an air assault operation into a remote hostile area. Moments after the
Airmen inserted themselves into the mountains of Afghanistan, their position came under attack
from heavy machine gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars. As the scout platoon
scrambled to find cover among the rocks, Sergeant Delaney quickly called for close air support.
While he and his team sought reprieve from the intense fire by constantly shifting their positions behind rocks, Sergeant Delaney had trouble directly contacting the first set of fighter aircraft providing close air support. Fortunately, he was able to contact an MC-12 crew who then relayed the ground coordinates to Navy F-18s. The F-18s rapidly engaged and destroyed a Taliban position. After the fighters expended their munitions, Army AH-64 and OH-58 helicopters, along with Air Force F-15s and F-16s, arrived on scene to provide further air support, all working with the embattled JTAC to locate, target, and destroy the Taliban ambush. This concentrated firepower disrupted the enemy attack and enabled the team to reposition.
The fighting then became so fierce and so close that Sergeant Delaney asked and received his commander’s permission to drop ordnance within 200 yards, or “danger close.” Although two bombs were subsequently dropped, the battle still raged. As the sun began to set nearly 12 hours into the fight, an AC-130 gunship with a combat controller arrived to help the nowexhausted JTAC. Sergeant Delaney and the controller then coordinated efforts to fight a ferocious and entrenched enemy. Over the course of the battle, Sergeant Delaney controlled 14 different airframes from the Air Force, Navy, and Army, and guided 26 strikes on fortified enemy positions in the surrounding ridgelines. Fifteen hours after the ambush began, the enemy force of more than 250 fighters was completely decimated, yet not one American or Afghan military member was significantly injured or killed.
As a result of his courage, heroism, and selfless action under fire, Sergeant Delaney was awarded the Silver Star Medal and Army Combat Action Badge.