Robins airman awarded Bronze Star

wcrenshaw@macon.comJanuary 18, 2013 

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE -- A Robins Air Force Base airman’s work during his first deployment to Afghanistan earned him a Bronze Star.

First Lt. Brian Johnson of the 78th Medical Group received the medal during a ceremony Friday witnessed by about 300 fellow airmen.

He was awarded the medal for his efforts as an administrator on a surgical team during a six-month deployment in 2012. Johnson’s team treated 250 wounded patients at a forward operating base in the Ghazni province, including U.S. and Afghan forces and civilians.

He also served as medical ambassador for the base, and in that role contributed to the care of about 5,000 troops.

In an interview after the ceremony, Johnson said his team worked out of a barracks hut in “austere” conditions.

Their job was to stabilize patients and send them off to a hospital at a main base. He said the experience was not unlike a “M*A*S*H” episode, in that his team could be relaxing one minute, then scurrying to tend to wounded troops brought in on helicopter moments later.

Johnson’s job was to rally surgeons and nurses when the alert came that wounded were on the way.

“I slept with a radio and I slept with a 9mm,” he said. “Those two things never left my side.”

Johnson said the experience was “rewarding and humbling.” He said he most enjoyed the camaraderie among team members and seeing the results of their efforts.

“It’s always a difficult situation with what you see,” he said. “It’s tough sometimes. Trauma is not pretty, but knowing we had a true impact and knowing that we saved lives, that’s what you take home.”

The Bronze Star is the nation’s fourth highest combat medal.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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