View Full Version : Airman to Receive Air Force Cross

03-22-2009, 15:35
He was on Glenn Beck the other night. Seemed to downplay his actions as he said every other CCT airman would have done the same thing. He gave lots of credit to the training.


A Pope Air Force Base, N.C., combat controller is scheduled to receive the Air Force's second highest award for valor on March 10 in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

Staff Sgt. Zachary J. Rhyner will receive the Air Force Cross for his actions on April 6 in the Shok Valley in Afghanistan. Although shot in the left leg, he called in airstrikes, fired his M-4 rifle at the enemy and helped move other wounded people down a cliff.

Rhyner is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command's 21st Special Tactics Squadron at Pope. At the time of the incident, Rhyner was a senior airman who had completed training less than a year earlier.

Combat controllers train for two years at Pope and elsewhere to do mostly covert missions in hostile territory. The "battlefield airmen" can parachute or infiltrate into enemy territory to set up drop zones, do air-traffic control or call in aircraft to shoot or drop bombs on the enemy. They often work on an Army Special Forces or Navy SEAL team and fight alongside soldiers and sailors while summoning Air Force firepower from overhead. The aircraft often are firing near "friendly" forces on the ground.

Rhyner is credited with saving his team from being overrun twice in a 6-hour battle in the Shok Valley. Members of A-Team 3336 from Fort Bragg's 3rd Special Forces Group received 10 Silver Stars, the Army's third highest award for combat valor, for their actions in that engagement.

About 100 Special Forces and Afghan soldiers each were carrying more than 60 pounds of equipment when they jumped from helicopters onto icy, jagged rocks and waist-deep running water in 30-degree temperatures to assault a terrorist stronghold in Afghanistan. Their objective was at the top of the mountains surrounding the valley.

They were ambushed by 200 enemy fighters, and Rhyner was shot within the first 15 minutes, according to an account from the Air Force Special Operations Command. The team came under fire from all directions from snipers, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Capt. Kyle Walton, the Special Forces team leader, treated Rhyner for his injuries as the Airman called in Apache attack helicopters.

Rhyner called in 4,570 rounds of cannon fire, nine Hellfire missiles, 162 rockets, 12 500-pound bombs and a 2,000-pound bomb, Air Force officials said.

Air Force officials estimate that 40 enemy were killed and 100 wounded in the engagement.

Rhyner is the second Pope airmen to receive the award since Sept.11, 2001. Air Force Tech. Sgt. John A. Chapman, also a combat controller, posthumously received the Air Force Cross for heroism under fire on March 4, 2002, near Gardez in the eastern highlands of Afghanistan. In 2005, The Military Sealift Command named a cargo ship the MV T Sgt. John A. Chapman in honor of the ''battlefield Airman'' in a ceremony at Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal.

03-22-2009, 17:24
Congratulations SSG Rhyner..
Job well done...
Thank you for your service..

03-22-2009, 19:50
Amazing story. Well done, SSG Rhyner.

03-22-2009, 19:57
He was with my team after we replaced the 3rd grp guys from that mission. He's a stud...great kid and I would gladly go back into combat with him!

x SF med
03-22-2009, 21:21
Outstanding! Well done, SSG Rhymer.

03-23-2009, 07:04
Congratulations, Job Well Done......

Red Flag 1
03-23-2009, 07:55
Congratulations SSG Rhyner!

Well done!!

RF 1

03-23-2009, 07:57
Good work, thanks for your service!

03-23-2009, 11:19
Congratulations !!!! Thank you for your service!

Team Sergeant
03-23-2009, 11:31
Well deserved SSG Rhyner!

03-23-2009, 12:03
Congratulations SSG Rhyner .........................:lifter


03-23-2009, 13:48
Congratulations SSG Rhyner! Great Job!!

03-23-2009, 17:00
Well done...and well deserved.

03-24-2009, 04:37
Congrats SSG, and THANK YOU

03-24-2009, 09:13
Stand tall, SSG!

Goggles Pizano
03-24-2009, 11:10
Well done Lad, well done!

03-25-2009, 19:39
Just read about this guy. Outstanding work!

03-28-2009, 21:07
Hero, I would but him a shot. We can kick some ass but the radio and CAS is a vital link that an ODA just can't afford to loose.

Congrat! :lifter