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EOD Airman Receives 5th Bronze Star

 HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- A Bronze Star with Valor was presented to an explosive ordnance disposal technician here March 22, making him only the fifth Airman to receive five Bronze Star medals..

  Tech. Sgt. Ronnie Brickey, Air Force Special Operations School Force Protection Branch NCO-in-charge, said receiving this particular Bronze Star was humbling for him.   Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, AFSOC commander, presented Brickey this medal for his bravery during a mission in Afghanistan on June 1, 2011.  "Ronnie, your unmatched skills, courage, and selflessness epitomize what being a warrior is all about," Fiel said during his speech at the medal presentation. "You're an extraordinary example to us all."   Brickey said it all started while performing an IED post-blast analysis. He identified three additional IEDs and knew he had to render them safe.   Although this alone can be a normal day's work in the EOD business, things went downhill fast for this Air Commando.   Brickey said he was able to eliminate the first two threats pretty quickly; however, after he started working on the third IED, his unit came under direct fire from multiple positions.  Brickey protected his team of 20 U.S. soldiers, four Canadian soldiers, and two Afghan National Security Forces members throughout the 40-minute firefight by posting himself next to the IED to prevent accidental detonation. During this time, he repeatedly exposed himself to direct fire, returned fire on the enemy, and directed his team past the IED.  Finally, Brickey attached a render safe tool to the IED and instructed his team to disable it remotely. He also used his body to shield two soldiers from the potential blast.  Because of Brickey's efforts, his team was able to maneuver on the enemy without unintentionally detonating an IED. The joint force went on to lay lethal fire, which forced insurgents to retreat.   To date, Brickey has been on 500 combat missions and rendered 200 IEDs safe.   "I love being an EOD technician," he said. "I often felt like a kid on Christmas morning when I would walk down a dirt path in Afghanistan and identify a buried IED.  Knowing that a life is saved every time I remove an IED from the battlefield is one of the greatest feelings in the world."
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