04 March 2009

Flight medic SSG Matthew Kinney awarded Silver Star

Sgt. Matthew Kinney, 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, was awarded the Silver Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross in the same ceremony. Photo: Spc. George Welcome / ARMY Staff

I found this story about SSG Matthew Kinney at Blackfive yesterday. You'll remember Kinney's Dustoff team from the Stars & Stripes article and video I linked to last year.

Medic honored for Afghanistan actions

Staff sgt. awarded Silver Star for saving patients, soldiers and medevac crew

By Michelle Tan - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Mar 1, 2009 8:48:28 EST

When Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Kinney’s boots touched the ground in Afghanistan’s rugged Korengal Valley, he knew that six wounded soldiers were waiting for him.

Over the next 45 minutes to an hour, Kinney’s actions under fire to evacuate what eventually became eight wounded men would earn him a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor.

Kinney, 30, had already served twice in Iraq when he deployed for his first tour in Afghanistan with the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, of Fort Campbell, Ky.

By the time he came home in January after 12 months in Afghanistan, Kinney had earned a Silver Star, a Distinguished Flying Cross from a separate engagement, and responded to the aftermath of the July 2008 battle in Wanat, Afghanistan, a bloody clash that claimed the lives of nine soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

“In my mind, I’ve done a lot of stuff throughout my Army career, and I don’t feel like I should be awarded [the Silver Star],” Kinney told Army Times on Feb. 19 after his award ceremony. “It’s like I’m not deserving of the award. I was just doing my job.”

The article goes on to describe the rest of the events of Oct. 16, 2008. After one aircraft left with the first group of casualties, a firefight ensued at the landing zone, and Kinney faced other challenges. Finally, Kinney and the last group of patients were on their way out:

In the air, Kinney single-handedly treated five critical patients, controlling bleeding, administering pain control, dressing wounds and starting intravenous drips, according to the narrative. The wounds he worked on included partial amputations, femoral bleeding and gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

“On countless occasions, he demonstrated a willingness to lay down his own life for those he is sworn to protect,” according to the narrative. “By calling Apache fire onto the location of an enemy heavy machine gun during an ambush, he saved the lives of countless soldiers on the ground, as well as the lives of the entire medevac crew who had assumed a stationary hover over the kill zone.”

Kinney credited his fellow soldiers for their actions on that day.

“Everything happened the way it happened because you train that way as a team and we ended up doing it as a team,” he said. “When things start going bad you take the plan you have and adjust it so you can keep moving forward, because when you stop or hesitate is the second you lose an aircraft or somebody gets hurt or somebody dies,” he said. “I know I have to always keep moving. If something doesn’t work you just have to modify it and you can’t come up with ‘I don’t know’ or ‘I’m stressed’ or ‘I can’t do this.’ You have to find a way.”

Make sure to read the whole thing.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Kinney, a flight medic, treats a wounded U.S. soldier while Staff Sgt. James Frailey, a helicopter crew chief, looks on. An Afghan soldier, in the rear, was wounded. Photo and story: Michael Gisick / S&S.

Kinney's Dustoff unit worked other missions you're familiar with: He and fellow flight medic SGT Adam Connaughton helped take care of CPT Rob Yllescas. They medevaced the casualties out of Wanat. And Connaughton pulled out the guys of 3rd Group after they were ambushed in the Shok valley. You may remember 10 of them were awarded Silver Stars for their actions in that battle. SGT Connaughton received a Bronze Star with Valor and later an Air Medal with Valor.

As I said in my earlier post on them, there are no words to describe how I feel about these guys whom you can meet by watching the video here.

Update April 2010: DUSTOFF Association Flight Medic of the Year

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