SJAFB airman earns Bronze Star
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on December 7, 2011 1:46 PM
Not every airman gets to see the sacrifices being made in Afghanistan through the eyes of those who have witnessed valor.
Only a few can say they have read a Medal of Honor narrative before the decoration was bestowed upon a man who considered himself just another soldier.
The list gets more exclusive when the person reviewing these tales is a man who volunteered for a year away from his wife and family.
And it is narrowed down to one when the man signs up to lead more than 200 convoys outside the wire.
But watching him accept his Bronze Star Tuesday on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, it was as if Staff Sgt. William Guthery still couldn't quite grasp that he had earned a coveted military medal -- that his story was on the same level as many of those he reviewed as the non-commissioned officer in charge of an awards unit stationed in Kabul.
So when 4th Fighter Wing Mission Support Group Commander Col. Anne Winkler pinned the rare achievment on his uniform in front of dozens of his comrades, it was a humbling experience for the man who contends he simply did his job.
"I wasn't expecting it," he said. "I just went over and did my job the best I could."
During the 365-day tour he volunteered for, Guthery and his team were tasked by Gen. David Petraeus to travel around Afghanistan and unwrap, for the deployed, the general's policy on awards.
But he would come to find that his job would present opportunities far more powerful than those that unfolded during visits to the most remote combat operating posts in the war-torn country.
The airman would also be one of the first to hear about the courage and self-sacrifice taking place on the battlefield and in the skies.
"We did Silver Stars, DFCs, Purple Hearts -- even Medal of Honors came through us. There were so many (stories)," Guthery said. "I think that was the best part of the experience: seeing ... what they're doing out there."
And even though his wife, Kristen, is proud of her husband's achievment -- and the wing is honored to add another Bronze Star recipient to its ranks -- the real honor, the sergeant said, was making sure others got their due "as quickly and efficiently as possible."
"I love being at home, but the job means a lot more," Guthery said. "I just like deploying and I love doing different things -- and this one was definitely different."