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‘It’s the dream job’, SOST member awarded Bronze Star Medal

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo
  • 24th Special Operations Wing

Staff Sgt. Johnathan Randall, a Special Operations Surgical Team member assigned to the 720th Operational Support Squadron, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida May 20, 2020.

As a surgical technician assigned to a six-member SOST, Randall received the decoration for his actions providing tactical medical expertise at thirty-five austere casualty collection points supporting United States, coalition, and partner nation forces while deployed to U.S. Central Command from January through June of 2019.

“Humbling,” is the first word that comes to mind for Randall when receiving the decoration.

Although the rest of his team wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, their impact and contributions have had a lasting effect.

“When I first got to the unit, the team I deployed with were receiving Bronze Stars and I always felt I was standing on the shoulders of giants,” said Randall. “I was walking into a career field where the people are of such high caliber, doing things that were just unheard of in the medical field… to even stand beside them is a great feeling.”

Among the achievements considered for the medal included delivering expert surgical care for 644 combat casualties, assisting in 16 damage control surgeries, 46 resuscitations and 70 advanced procedures at the most forward point of combat operations.

“I am extremely proud of Staff Sgt. Randall and his team for the amazing work they did in support of Operation Inherent Resolve,” said. Lt. Col. James Webb, SOST director. “Damage control resuscitation and surgery are challenging even in the most ideal situations, but to perform at such a high level in the most extreme environments, hours forward of the closest hospitals is a testament to the mental and physical fortitude of him and his team.”

For Randall and his team there was one moment during the deployment that stood out. While staged forward during a counterattack that put the team in grave danger, his six-person team received, triaged, stabilized and evacuated 51 blast and gunshot wound casualties in the team’s largest mass casualty event all while under the constant threat of small arms and mortar fire.

The SOST’s efforts not only advanced battlefield objectives, but also helped strengthen the partnerships with foreign allies and coalition forces.

“We enable our allies to stay in the fight,” said Randall. “They know they have that American team that’s going to take care of them, we’re moving with them and we would be right there. They appreciated us and we appreciate them… we built a bond.”

SOST members are known for being dedicated to their craft, their team, their patients and the mission. When Randall entered the Air Force in 2012, he internalized that mentality with joining SOST as his end goal. Now reflecting on his first deployment, his outlook hasn’t changed.

“You learn to work together, you love eachother,” said Randall. “It’s surreal to be as effective as we are on a six-person team…It’s the dream job.”

Special Operations Surgical Teams fall under the 24th Special Operations Wing and are part of the Air Force Special Tactics enterprise conducting battlefield surgery to enable global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.