He sent a link to a video of the award ceremony, knowing full well I'd embarrass him by posting it here. Many thanks to Greyhawk for cleaning up the audio so we can better understand Matthew's moving acceptance speech.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Matthew S. Kinney, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, attached to 2d Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, on 16 October 2008, during a daring Medevac hoist rescue in the forbidding Korengal Valley of Afghanistan.
NARRATIVE: Staff Sergeant Matthew S. Kinney, United States Army, distinguished himself through exceptionally heroic conduct on 16 October 2008, during a daring Medevac hoist rescue in the forbidding Korengal Valley of Afghanistan. His actions not only reflect the highest credit upon himself and his unit, but saved the lives of eight critically wounded U.S. and Afghan Soldiers and an entire Medevac crew.
Departing in response to an urgent Medevac request emanating from the Korengal Valley, Staff Sergeant Kinney configured himself and his aircraft for hoist operations while en route. He then advised both Dustoff crews to hoist down their medics simultaneously in order to expedite the packaging and loading of the reported four casualties. Upon arriving, the pilots of both Medevac aircraft heeded Staff Sergeant Kinney's advice, lowering both flight medics into the small mountain village.
On the ground, Staff Sergeant Kinney quickly took charge of a chaotic situation. Staff Sergeant Kinney discovered six urgent casualties crammed into a small mud and rock building in which several other Soldiers were taking cover. He immediately ordered all non-wounded Soldiers to pull security outside and began assessing the critically wounded. He directed the other flight medic to assist him in stabilizing the most critical patient and simultaneously directed a ground Soldier to pull the Skedco litter from its bag and prepare it for the casualty. After the patient was packaged, Staff Sergeant Kinney directed the Soldier to drag that patient outside to make more room in the small stone confinement. As he began stabilizing and packaging the second critical casualty, Staff Sergeant Kinney ordered the other flight medic to prepare to hoist up the first patient.
During the second hoist iteration, the aircraft and the small building came under heavy effective machine gun fire. Despite rounds cracking overhead and impacting in the terrain around him, Staff Sergeant Kinney helped his fellow medic complete the hoist, while attempting to locate the origin of the enemy ambush. Staff Sergeant Kinney discovered that the fire was coming from a ridgeline immediately to the north of his location, opposite of where the Apache aircraft were engaging.
He contacted the Apache gunships over his MBITR radio and began redirecting rocket and 30-mm. gun runs onto the heavy machine gun location, effectively suppressing the fire. The hovering Medevac aircraft had already taken two direct hits while inside the ambush kill zone. If not for Staff Sergeant Kinney's instinctive action the entire crew and two patients onboard would have undoubtedly been lost.
As the Apache aircraft continued to suppress, Staff Sergeant Kinney finished packaging his third critical patient and began to assess and treat the remaining three patients, who suffered from multiple shrapnel and gunshot wounds. As his fellow medic departed up the hoist, Staff Sergeant Kinney immediately began preparing the third Skedco Extraction Litter.
Staff Sergeant Kinney discovered that several of the required hoist straps were missing. Without hesitation, he procured a rope and began using it to prepare a harness that would secure the patient's Skedco to the hoist hook. Staff Sergeant Kinney now moved his three remaining patients to cover as he radioed his Medevac aircraft, requesting extraction.
As the firefight continued around him, the pinned down squad took an additional casualty. Staff Sergeant Kinney quickly triaged this Soldier and placed him with the other three casualties awaiting hoist extraction. While waiting for his aircraft, Staff Sergeant Kinney maneuvered under fire to an adjacent building in effort to locate the enemy fighting positions and possibly relay them to the Apaches, but the fire ceased as soon as he repositioned.
The Medevac aircraft hovered into position and Staff Sergeant Kinney took the first ambulatory patient into the open and secured him to the Jungle Penetrator (JP). The enemy began taking pot shots at Staff Sergeant Kinney and his patient. As soon as the patient was off the ground, Staff Sergeant Kinney scrambled back to cover and retrieved a second ambulatory casualty. As he exposed himself once again, the bullets began cracking by and impacting the wall behind him. Regardless, he secured the patient and waited until the JP was off the ground until retreating to cover.
Once more, he repositioned to an overlooking building for a better vantage point, but was unable to get a fix on the sniper's location. Returning for the final litter casualty, Staff Sergeant Kinney directed two Soldiers to help him drag the Skedco litter into the clearing.
Staff Sergeant Kinney began connecting his makeshift Skedco rigging to the hoist's rescue hook. With the sporadic enemy fire still kicking up dirt all around him, Staff Sergeant Kinney dutifully held the tagline for several minutes while his patient hoisted up, ensuring the litter did not spin out of control. When the cable was fully retracted Staff Sergeant Kinney realized that his makeshift harness ropes were too long and the litter still hung several feet below the aircraft.
He calmly instructed the crew chief to lower the Sked and instructed the pilots to “do a lap” in order to limit their exposure to enemy fire while he sat in the open and shortened the ropes.
At this time, an eighth Soldier was wounded in the leg by the sustained enemy fire.
When the aircraft returned and the cable sent back down, Staff Sergeant Kinney sent the latest ambulatory casualty up on the JP after controlling his bleeding.
Lastly, Staff Sergeant Kinney began his second attempt at hoisting up the makeshift Skedco, this time doing so successfully. With all five of his casualties onboard, Staff Sergeant Kinney quickly secured his gear, and checked for any additional wounded. He then rode the JP up to his aircraft.
En route to the Forward Surgical Team (FST), Staff Sergeant Kinney single handedly treated five critical patients, controlling bleeding, administering pain control, dressing wounds, and starting IVs. The multi-systemic wounds Staff Sergeant Kinney treated alone in the back of his cramped aircraft included partial amputations, femoral bleeding, and multiple gunshot and shrapnel wounds.
Upon landing at the Medical Treatment Facility, Staff Sergeant Kinney assisted in unloading his patients and preparing them for surgery once in the FST.
Staff Sergeant Kinney's heroic actions on this day exceeded the call of duty and speak volumes to his selfless dedication to the welfare of his fellow Soldiers. On countless occasions, he demonstrated a willingness to lay down his own life for those he is sworn to protect. 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 an entire Medevac crew who had assumed a stationary hover over the kill zone.
Staff Sergeant Kinney's selfless actions under fire, his level head during a deteriorating situation, and improvisations when all was otherwise lost, reflect the highest credit upon himself, the Medevac, Task Force Out Front, and the United States Army.
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