War heroes were honored Monday with military combat awards at the Oregon National Guard facility at Camp Wythecomb in Clackamas.
One airman, Tech Sgt. Doug Matthews, received the Silver Star and three others were awarded Bronze Stars for bravery serving in Afghanistan.
All of the awards went to members of the Oregon Air Guard’s 125th Special Tactics Squadron. They specialize in bringing in air power to support ground operations, often under fire from the enemy.
Matthews was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest combat honor in the military, after an explosive device blew up under his vehicle in November 2012. The explosion blew Matthews out of the vehicle.
Even though he was injured, Matthews returned fire, coordinated airstrikes and medical evacuation for others injured during the convoy ambush.
“All of us go out there just to do our jobs and serve … so much of what happens is just the luck of the draw with what ends up happening around you and to you and the people that you fight with,” said Matthews. “It's completely a team effort. I have all the faith in the world that any other member of my team would have done the exact same thing in my shoes.”
Three other air guard members: Staff Sgt. Christopher Jones, Staff Sgt. Matthew Matlock, and Tech Sgt. George Thompson all received bronze stars – the military's fourth-highest award for bravery in combat.
All three were under enemy fire, often in an ambush, as they called in airstrikes against enemy positions during deployments over the past three years in Afghanistan.
BELOW: Combat controllers with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 125th Special Tactics Squadron pose for a group photo following an award ceremony, March 24, at the 41st Infantry Division Armed Forces Reserve Center at Camp Withycombe, in Clackamas, Ore. From left: Tech. Sgt. Doug Matthews received the rarely awarded Silver Star; Staff Sgt. Christopher Jones received the Bronze Star with Valor and first Oak Leaf Cluster; Staff Sgt. Matthew Matlock received the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and second Oak Leaf Cluster; and Tech. Sgt. George Thompson received the Bronze Star. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. John Hughel, 142nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs)