Two Valor Awards for TACP

By Brian W. Everstine

An Air Force tactical air control party airman received both the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals—both with Valor—for two separate missions during a single deployment to Afghanistan last year.

TSgt. Cam Kelsch, assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Benning, Ga., was deployed with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment on April 25, 2018, when his team was tasked with tracking down a high-value target during a night raid in Afghanistan.

When the unit came under attack, Kelsch exposed himself to the fire and called in strikes from an AC-130 circling above, which used its 40 mm cannon to attack targets within 40 meters of the team’s location.

“There’s one thing that Cam had that day that we can’t teach, instruct, or measure,” said Maj. Gen. Vincent K. Becklund, deputy commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, during a ceremony at the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, Ga. “The reason we’re here today is because Cam distinguished himself on the battlefield that night through his courage, his selflessness, and his devotion to his teammates.”

Wounded as he dragged a fellow US service member to safety, saving his life, Kelsch continued to call in strikes on more targets about 70 meters away, according to the citation.

He then called on an unidentified ISR aircraft to coordinate simultaneous 500-pound bombs from an F-16 and 105 mm cannon blasts from the AC-130 to take out a final enemy location.

Kelsch also received the Bronze Star with Valor for an undated mission during which he placed himself between an enemy location and his team’s wounded ground force commander.

With enemy in “immediate proximity,” Kelsch eliminated that threat and helped his ground commander recover, according to the citation.