A Decade Plus Later, 8 Nevada Air Guardsmen Get Combat Medals

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RENO, NV - One by one the names of eight former and present members of the 152nd Security Force Squadron were called at ceremonies at Reno Tahoe's Air National Guard Base Friday.

The recognition has been a long time coming.

The men received the medals for action in a 2002 fire fight in Afghanistan.

Some have since gone on to other assignments, some retired to civilian life.

Friday they were recognized as heroes, each receiving the Air Force Combat Action Medal.

February 2002 found them on active duty stationed at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. Suddenly they came under fire.

"It started out as a couple of tracer rounds," says retired MSgt John Blevins., "and we had an aircraft on the airfield. As we came down they were shooting at us. We were trying to really hard to get this aircraft off of the ground before it got hit."

"We returned fire to repel the attack and make sure we could get the aircraft off the runway safely," adds MSgt Clinton Dudley.

"It was scary," recalls MSgt. Wayne Wheeler, who added, that training and experience as a civilian officer with the Carson City Sheriff's Office kicked in. "We reacted the right way. We all came back in one piece."

The Air Guardsmen did not receive the medal when it was first established in 2007. Another member of the Guard recognized the oversight, researched the incident and working with Senator Reid's office brought it to the attention of the Pentagon.

To a man, those receiving it today said they never felt slighted by the delayed recognition.

"I never thought about it much," says Dudley. "We were just doing our job.."

A ninth former guardsman, retired MSgt Daniel Baldridge was present at the ceremony. He'll be receiving the medal as well. At the moment it's delayed by paperwork.