HURLBURT FIELD — A crowd of more than 100 family members, friends and teammates gathered at the Special Tactics Memorial on Friday as the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest military decoration for valor, was presented to Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Chris Grove for actions 12 years ago in Afghanistan.
Grove was originally awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for his actions, but due to a recent review of awards within the 24th Special Operations Wing at Hurlburt Field, his case was reviewed for an upgrade.
"I’m grateful that (leadership) valued the actions that day and sought out this upgrade," Grove said. "Within our formation, we are fortunate that we have those leaders, both military and civilian, that take care of our people and what they do."
On Nov. 2, 2007, Grove, then a technical sergeant, was assigned as the joint terminal attack controller with a U.S. Special Forces team on patrol in an area hammered by the Taliban when his team encountered a close-range enemy ambush.
A Special Tactics combat controller assigned as the Hurlburt Field-based 720th Special Tactics Group’s superintendent, Grove and his team immediately began returning fire and sought cover in a nearby compound.
Grove exposed himself to gunfire to establish an observation post. While under continuous enemy fire, Grove controlled airstrikes from F-15 Strike Eagles, destroying advancing enemy forces.
As the battle raged, the ground force commander became trapped inside a building upon which insurgents were advancing. Grove called for air power, creating an opportunity for his team to maneuver against the enemy forces.
Grove’s battlefield actions allowed his team to break contact and recover a fallen teammate, saving the lives of many U.S. and coalition forces and ensuring no one was left behind.
"Luck is when preparation meets opportunity," Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, said at the Silver Star presentation. "On Nov. 2, 2007, (Grove was) the right airman at the right place, at the right time, who rose to the occasion brilliantly. Thanks for being our example of the embodiment of the American airman and a testament to the proud Special Tactics wing."
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Special Tactics airmen have received one Medal of Honor, 11 Air Force Crosses and 48 Silver Star Medals.