Master Sgt. John Grimesey was awarded a Silver Star on Aug. 14th at Pope Field, N.C. He received this award for his efforts in saving lives while under enemy attack in Afghanistan in 2013.
Grimesey is a Special Tactics combat controller with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing. He is responsible for saving the life of a fellow special operations troop. He also called in multiple airstrikes while being under attack by the enemy.
Special Tactics Airmen are U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air-to-ground integration force. They are AFSOC’s special operations ground force. They lead global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.
The objective Grimesey set out to achieve was to clear and secure a village in Ghazni Province with the goal of establishing local Afghan police presence without the threat of opposition forces.
Grimesey and his team partnered up with the local Afghan police. They set out together to clear the area until one of the teams encountered a large band of Taliban fighters.
“Our Afghan team got separated and started to take on enemy fire. Myself and an Army Special Forces Soldier maneuvered to provide assistance and quickly found ourselves engaged with the Taliban,” Grimesey said.
In order to gain situational awareness, Grimesey peered around a wall. He noticed the wounded and dead Afghan police officers, including the police chief. At that moment, Grimesey was struck by a rocket propelled grenade.
Grimesey shared his memory of that moment:
“I remember the ringing in my ears. I knew I was concussed from the blast because of the ringing, my vision was blurry and I was fatigued,” Grimesey recalled.
Even though Grimesey was suffering from a concussion and shrapnel wounds, he still was able to drag his Army Special Forces teammate away from the immediate danger zone and assess the situation.
His military training kicked into overdrive to resolve the crisis.
“I snapped into a problem solving mode. The situation was dire and the only way to solve it was to rely on my extensive training and attempt to break down the large problem into small chunks. I had to prioritize what I was being faced with,” Grimesey said.
The Special Tactics combat controller was able to call in more support from other Army Special Forces units and from aircraft for close-air-support. The entire time he was also engaged in a fire fight with opposition forces.
It was later discovered that a Taliban training team had made their way to the village. This drastically increased the number of fighters the team encountered in the village.
The Special Tactics combat controller was able to call in additional support from other Army Special Forces units, and from aircraft for close-air-support; all the while engaging in a fire fight with opposition forces.
“Eventually we were able to gain control and eliminate the Taliban resistance while also finishing the mission to secure the village,” said Grimesey.
Grimesey was originally awarded an Army Achievement Medal, but this was upgraded to a Silver Star Medal. During the ceremony he also received a Bronze Star Medal, second oak leaf cluster with Valor for another battle that occurred in the Middle East in 2017.
As Grimesey begins his medical retirement process, he spoke about his experience in Afghanistan.
“I think about it every day. I even dream about it. It’s an event that left an impression on me. While it was a harrowing experience, I look back with great pride and believe that my team and I were able to save lives and help ensure the security of the village,” Grimesey reflected.
Lt. Gen. James Slife, commander, Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony and presented the Silver Star Medal. He shared his thoughts on the heroic efforts of Grimesey
“You may not call yourself a hero, Master Sgt. Grimesey, but I do. Because of your actions that day, families and friends did not experience loss. The men whose lives you saved will continue to positively impact those around them, creating a chain of reaction that ripples across generations,” Slife said.
Since the events of 9/11 Special Tactics Airmen have received one Medal of Honor, 11 Air Force Crosses and 49 Silver Star Medals. Grimesey’s makes the 50th Silver Star Medal awarded.
Grimesey shares his thoughts for future generations that may be looking for a way to positively impact the world.
“If there are any other young men and women out there looking for a community with a sense of purpose and opportunity to make a positive impact on the world at large, they don’t have to look any further than Air Force Special Tactics,” said Grimesey.