YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) --
Master Sgt. James Charles, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, was presented the Bronze Star at Yokota Air Base, May 22, for his meritorious achievement as Maintenance Training Advisor in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel while at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
“This isn’t a result of my actions, but those realized by the team of people I was lucky enough to be part of,” Charles said. “While in Afghanistan, I was fortunate enough to be assigned to an amazing team of diverse and talented folks.”
From Sept. 27, 2017 to Sept. 26, 2018, Charles was assigned to the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing. During this time, he operated outside of the coalition-controlled airfield, where he endured 19 indirect fire rocket attacks and was exposed to a persistent threat of insider attacks.
While facing these pressures, Charles led a team of Afghan maintenance personnel, dedicating over 900 hours advising on Afghan aircraft fleets located in Kandahar.
Additionally, he took control as the program manager for the Defense Language Institute’s English as a second language training program, successfully training 79 Afghan students, to include skill level upgrade of 48 Afghan maintainers.
His leadership and mentorship proved crucial, enabling the generation of tactical airlift and strike-capable aircraft for more than 1,800 combat sorties, over 2,300 casualty evacuations, the recovery of over 880 human remains and contributing to the sustainability and capability of a fleet with a combined value of over $249 million.
“It was a long year full of frustration and fulfillment,” Charles said. “Because of the team and our shared mission, I was able to walk away with an experience that opened my eyes as to why we’re still in Afghanistan and how we’re moving forward.”
Since after Dec. 6, 1941, men and women who served in any capacity in or with the U.S. military, have been awarded Bronze Star Medal; distinguishing themselves by their heroic or meritorious achievements or service. Charles is now amongst those brave men and women who have been recognized for their honorable contributions to the missions of the U.S. military.
“Receiving this decoration is both an honor and a privilege,” Charles said.