EOD Airman nominated for Bronze Star

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Beth Del Vecchio
  • U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
There is a bloodstain on his boot. He says it's a reminder of a day he probably couldn't forget, even if he tried.

Staff Sgt. Kenneth Guinn, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician deployed here from the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, has been nominated for a Bronze Star and Army Commendation medal with valor for his response after a soldier stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device while on a foot patrol.

While assigned to the 966th EOD Flight, Operating Location-Bravo, in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, Guinn and his team augmented a U.S. Army platoon on foot patrol in search of IEDs. Near the end of the operation, a Soldier on the patrol stepped on a pressure plate and was catapulted into a nearby well. Guinn rushed to the Soldier's aid.

"I jumped in the well and saw that both of his legs were gone and he was in danger of losing his arm," Guinn said. "That's when my brain switched off and my training took over."

Guinn and his EOD team members quickly applied tourniquets to each of the Soldier's thighs and one to his arm. He later found out that the tourniquet he placed on the Soldier's arm saved the limb from amputation.

Tech. Sgt. Diana Guinn, fellow OL-B EOD technician and Kenneth's wife of six years, was at the flight's command and control center when the call came in that a patrol in Panjwai was hit and there was a triple amputee. She said when the call came in, the entire office went silent.

"I knew Kenny's team was on patrol so when the battalion called and told us there was an injury, a triple amputee, during the operation, I was worried," she said. "It was a huge relief when Kenny called and told us that both of our EOD teams were ok."

Diana said that the medical staff that worked to save the Soldier's arm lauded her husband's quick response and combat life saver techniques.

"The medical staff said that he saved that Soldier's life," she said. "I couldn't be more proud of him."

Guinn is not only doing great things in combat situations, he is standing out among his peers on the counter-IED front. In the first month of his deployment, he and his team found and cleared 48 IEDs in the Panjwai district, the most of any EOD team in Regional Command-South.

Because of his experience outside the wire, Guinn was selected to work on a partnership training team with the Afghan National Army. Currently, he trains, mentors and subsequently validates ANA soldiers through a number of operations to safely identify, investigate and render safe unexploded ordnance and IEDs.

Once the ANA soldiers are successfully validated, they can conduct IED-D operations independent of coalition forces, adding one more team to the fight against the enemy's deadliest weapon in Afghanistan.

"I think being able to share real-world experiences with the Afghans is extremely beneficial," Guinn said. "We share all the lessons we have learned the hard way, so they don't have to do the same. Eventually the ANA can take over and run missions on their own."

As Guinn continues to train the ANA soldiers, his past reminds him of the impact his team has on Afghanistan's future.

"I don't think we will be able to successfully withdraw from Afghanistan unless we train the Afghan National Security Forces to follow in our footsteps and independently continue the mission," he said. "I think the fruits of our labor will become evident only after we turn over the counter-IED mission, and if the teams that we validate are not successful with their mission, then we have failed with ours."