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JBSA News
NEWS | June 7, 2007

Lackland's own one of first to be awarded AFCAM

By Lilly Flores-Janecek 37th Training Wing Public Affairs Office

A Team Lackland member is among the five recipients of the new Air Force Combat Action Medal who will be honored June 12 in Washington, D.C.

Senior Master Sgt. Ramon Colon-Lopez is the commandant of the Pararescue and Combat Rescue Officer School, Detachment 1, 342nd Training Squadron.

The AFCAM was created by the Air Force to recognize Airmen involved in combat operations either in the air or on the ground as part of their official duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Sergeant Colon-Lopez will receive the AFCAM for his involvement in an Advance Force Operations mission on March 11, 2004, in Afghanistan. The mission's aim was to capture a high-value target to prevent the proliferation of chemical weapons. During the mission, his team took sustained small arms weapons fire, damaging their aircraft and continued enemy fire on the ground.

Still, the team persevered and caused a hasty retreat of the enemy forces. The raid resulted in two enemies killed in action, the apprehension of 10 enemy personnel and the destruction of multiple rocket propelled grenades and small caliber weapons.

"Sergeant Colon-Lopez's actions in Afghanistan epitomize who he is," said Col. Richard T. Naylor, 37th Training Group commander. "While he is the perfect choice to be one of the first AFCAM recipients, he would also be the first to tell you he was just doing his job.

"He's a hero every day," Colonel Naylor continued. "Not just with what he has done downrange, but what he does every day training the next generation of PJs. The 37th Training Group is very lucky to have a person of his experience and dedication leading the schoolhouse."

Sergeant Colon-Lopez said he is honored and humbled to be named a recipient of the Air Force's first combat medal, which he will accept next week with his wife, Janet, at his side.

"Everything that happened that night comes with the job," said Sergeant Colon-Lopez. "Do I feel like I did anything outstanding? No. That's just our mentality.

"We don't do it for recognition," he continued. "We just do it because that's what we signed up to do, and we know the dangers and hardships that come with the job." 


Air Force Combat Action Medal

Airmen are eligible for the Combat Action Medal if their primary role includes performing duties in a combat zone, either on the ground or from the air, or by entering into an unsecured area away from an established installation. 

While performing their duties, they must have come under attack or fired upon an enemy to qualify. 

Aircrew members must be flying in direct support of a combat zone and in combat. They also must be performing official duties and not manifested as a passenger. 

While performing close air support, taking fire from an enemy is not a prerequisite as long as the Airman is at great risk.