Rhode Island National Guard Lt. Col. Thomas Hannon, operations officer of the 143rd Security Forces Squadron, received the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service as operations officer of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron in Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Colonel Hannon, also known as Capt. Thomas Hannon of the Warwick Police Patrol Division, was instrumental in the deployment of more than 1,000 U.S., Afghan, Korean and Ugandan security force personnel charged with defending Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan's largest combat and logistics hub. He is also being recognized for his leadership role during 16 rocket attacks, a direct insurgent attack and the recovery of a crashed U.S. helicopter while he was deployed in Afghanistan.
Hannon is one of four Rhode Island Air Guardsmen who were honored on Sunday.
“The medal is for me but the fact is it was a team effort,” Hannon said Monday. “Every Airman there played a big role in it.”
Hannon also credited his service with the Warwick Police’s Special Weapons and Tactics team with providing the experience he drew on as he was coordinating and deploying guard and sniper protection for the base, which has been the target of Afghan insurgents since NATO forces were first deployed in that country in October of 2001.
Senior Airman Eric Fontes received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained from a rocket attack on Sept. 10 in 2010, while manning an entry control point outside of Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The attack claimed the lives of two Afghan National Army comrades and injured another
Air Force Security Forces member. Fontes received concussive and shrapnel wounds and was eventually returned to duty and finished his tour.
Master Sgt. Steven Croce received the Meritorious Service Medal for his role as the first sergeant of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron while deployed at Bagram. Croce is being recognized for his outstanding role in the management and training of more than 1,000 security force members during his deployment, and for his handling of numerous and complex personnel issues.
Senior Airman Yanick Koenig received the Air Force Achievement Medal with "V" device for valor, for his heroic actions, which are credited for saving the life of a fellow Airman, as a member of Quick Reaction Force, 455th Expeditionary Security Forces. Koenig, performing as a heavy machine-gun operator, was part of a mission sent to investigate insurgent activity in the Bagram area when a fellow team member triggered an anti-personnel mine. Koenig, without
hesitation or regard for his personal safety, entered the minefield and gave life-saving first aid before quickly evacuating the wounded Airman. His heroic and selfless actions played a pivotal role in the survival of his teammate.
The ceremony took place at the Quonset Air National Guard Base, North Kingstown.