Portraits in Courage Feature - Vol V
Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez

Stationed at: RAF Mildenhall, UK

- RAF Mildenhall, England

While assigned as a Combat Controller attached to a U.S. Army Special Forces Team, Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez brought airpower to bear with precision and expertise, while he and his teammates fought valiantly against a numerically superior enemy force that commanded a significant tactical advantage from prepared fighting positions on high urban terrain.

During an intense firefight, Sergeant Gutierrez effectively engaged the enemy while passing timely situation reports to Coalition aircraft. Suddenly, he felt a pain in his left side and noticed a shooter on the rooftop to his left. He swiftly retaliated with several rounds, subduing the enemy sniper, but as he continued to return fire, the pain worsened. Sergeant Gutierrez called for a medic as he slumped to the ground.

The medic began treating Sergeant Gutierrez for a sucking chest wound and informed the team leader that Sergeant Gutierrez would likely die without rapid evacuation to medical care. Despite the wound, Sergeant Gutierrez continued to coordinate close air support, repeatedly refusing to remove his communications gear to allow for medical treatment. Battling extreme pain and shortness of breath, Sergeant Gutierrez coordinated with two A-10s to conduct a strafing pass on the rooftops adjacent to the friendly position. While synchronizing an airstrike with the team's exit plan, Sergeant Gutierrez donned his combat equipment and prepared to move. Remarkably, Sergeant Gutierrez walked under his own power for two kilometers to the landing zone, where he finally coordinated for a medical evacuation helicopter.

Sergeant Gutierrez's valorous actions not only helped save the lives of his teammates, but also contributed to the subsequent death of the number two Taliban leader in the region.

He was awarded the Air Force Cross from the Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz. See video below.