KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (Tech. Sgt. Kristine Dreyer) – A special tactics Airman was awarded the 2013 Air Force Sergeants Association Pitsenbarger Award during a ceremony held Aug. 20, in Jacksonville, Fla.
Senior Airman Tristan Windle, a pararescueman with the 320th STS was recognized for his heroic actions while deployed in 2013 to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“The special tactics community is proud that Tristan’s pararescue skills were able to make a profound impact on such a tragic day,” said Lt. Col. Edmund Loughran, 320th STS commander. “We are grateful to AFSA for choosing to recognize him in this manner.”
The Pitsenbarger Award recognizes an Air Force enlisted member who has performed a heroic act, on or off duty, which resulted in the saving of a life or the prevention of a serious injury while placing the nominee at risk of danger.
While deployed to Afghanistan as a rescue specialist embedded with the U.S. Army Rangers, Windle and his team were caught in a planned insurgent ambush where suicide vest and pressure-plate improvised explosive device attacks resulted in 34 wounded and killed in action. Despite suffering injury from a blast within six feet of him, Windle provided treatment for 23 personnel and saved the lives of two of his teammates.
“Honestly, I am just humbled and honored to be recognized with this award. That deployment gave me the opportunity to put the training and mentorship I have received over the last five and a half years to use,” Windle said. “While I was prepared when my time came to go to Afghanistan, I was slightly nervous to deploy without a team of PJs to depend on. I knew I needed to know my stuff. By focusing on knowing my job and the mission, I was able to apply what I have been taught and simply do my job.”
The AFSA Pitsenbarger Award is named after Airman 1st Class William H. Pitsenbarger, an Air Force pararescueman who gave his life while aiding with the evacuation and treatment of fellow soldiers who were surrounded and pinned down by the North Vietnamese in the jungle of Vietnam. Pitsenbarger posthumously received the Air Force Cross on June 30, 1966 for his heroic actions. The award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor on Dec. 8, 2000.