Staff Sergeant Kyle Klapperich
Staff Sergeant Kyle Klapper ich , a pararescueman, deployed in support of Operation
ENDURING FREEDOM as the primary rescue specialist and sole medic attached to a combined
U.S. Navy SEAL and Afghan Commando Team. On the night of September 7, 2011, Sergeant
Klapperich inserted with a combined helo-assault force into a known insurgent stronghold
which was full of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). As they moved 200 meters through
multiple ditches and ravines, three members of the team were struck by an IED.
Although he had been only five meters away from the explosion, without hesitation, Sergeant Klapperich immediately responded to calls for help from his wounded teammates. With complete disregard for his own safety, he first ran to treat the team interpreter who was peppered with shrapnel wounds. Next, he located an Afghan commando who was critically wounded from a direct blast to his head and had second and third degree burns all over his body. To complicate the situation, the commando was lying in a crater directly on top of an undetonated, pressure plate IED. Sergeant Klapperich ignored the danger and provided first aid to the commando, placing him on his side to prevent him from drowning in his own blood while the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) technician dismantled the pressure plate. Next, under zero visibility conditions, Sergeant Klapperich felt his way through the minefield to reach the third wounded teammate. Assessing the carnage, he found that the third victim had partial amputations to both legs and his left upper arm and required tourniquets to stop the bleeding.
As Sergeant Klapperich was treating the third victim, a second IED detonated 10 meters away causing severe injuries to a Navy EOD technician. Again without pause, Sergeant Klapperich moved across the IED-laden field. Upon reaching him, he determined that the EOD technician had massive eye and facial trauma causing blindness, second and third degree burns, hemorrhaging of his scalp, a broken hand, and burns to his shoulder. Sergeant Klapperich walked his blind teammate out of the minefield to the evacuation helicopter. As this was occurring, three more IEDs were found and dismantled. After evacuating the victims, Sergeant Klapperich and his team engaged in three more close-quarters firefights. All remaining team members returned to base safely.
For his heroic actions in the face of great danger, Sergeant Klapperich was nominated for the Silver Star Medal.