Robins bomb technician receives Purple Heart

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 7, 2013 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- An airman at Robins Air Force Base may be running out of space for all of his medals.

Tech Sgt. Barry Duffield, an explosive ordnance technician in the 116th Air Control Wing, was awarded the Purple Heart on Monday by Gen. Mike Hostage, commander of Air Combat Command.

The ceremony comes just seven months after Duffield was awarded his second Bronze Star and the Combat Action Medal.

According to Capt. Pam Stauffer, 116th Air Control Wing spokeswoman, Duffield suffered multiple injuries in Afghanistan in 2011 from a bomb explosion. He was leading an explosive-ordnance disposal team on a route clearing mission in the Ghazni Province when his vehicle struck a large bomb that had been placed under the road.

The blast caused head pain, bruised ribs, an injury to his hand and multiple cuts, but Duffield still checked for secondary bombs before calling in a medical evacuation helicopter to assist two team members who were severely injured. He required physical therapy for back pain suffered as a result of the blast.

Hostage presented the medal to Duffield in a ceremony before hundreds of members of the 116th and the 461st Air Control Wings. The two units together operate the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System. Hostage came to Robins to speak to members of the two units, and the ceremony was held prior to that talk.

Media were escorted out following the Purple Heart ceremony, and neither Duffield nor Hostage were made available for interviews.

“When the pressure was on, time and time again, Tech. Sgt. Duffield showed technical expertise and genuine leadership ability in the midst of extreme danger,” Col. Gregory McCreary, 116th Mission Support Group commander, said in an e-mail. “He’ll say that risking his life is just part of the job, but our wing is very thankful for Sgt. Duffield’s sacrifice and the sacrifice his family has made over the many years and countless deployments so that all of us remain free.”

The Purple Heart is awarded to military members who are wounded or killed in action.

Duffield was awarded his second Bronze Star in June for his service on the same deployment, in which he led his team on 255 combat missions. He also was awarded a Bronze Star in 2007 for his service in Iraq.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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