Local Venturan awarded third highest DOD Medal

Dennis Cam Kelsch received medal for gallantry against an armed enemy.

Ventura native, and 2008 graduate of Ventura High School was presented a Silver Star Medal during a ceremony at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum, Pooler, Georgia on April 9.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Dennis Cam Kelsch, a Special Tactics operator assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, Air Force Special Operations Command, was awarded the nation’s third highest medal for gallantry against an armed enemy of the U.S. in combat.

In addition to the SSM presentation, U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Vincent Becklund, deputy commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, also awarded Kelsch with a Bronze Star Medal with Valor.

Kelsch was honored for his role in securing the safety of his joint and partner force members during an operation against a high value target while serving as a joint terminal attack controller deployed with a U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment battalion during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in support of the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

While receiving accurate fires from the enemy and with no regard for his own personal safety, Kelsch exposed himself to danger in order to control airstrikes from an AC-130 gunship within 35 meters of his team’s position. He also coordinated an attack with precision guided 500lb bombs from two F-16’s and 105mm munitions from an AC-130.

Additionally, Kelsch willingly exposed himself to effective enemy fire to save the life of a wounded American teammate by dragging him to safety. While recovering his teammate, Kelsch was hit by hostile fire. Kelsch continued to control danger close strikes to neutralize all remaining threats to the assault force.

Special Tactics is the Air Force’s ground special operations force that leads personnel recovery, global access, precision strike missions and battlefield surgical operations.

Since 9/11, Special Tactics Airmen have received one Medal of Honor, nine Air Force Crosses and 44 Silver Star Medals. Tech. Sgt. Kelsch is the first Air Force TACP operator to be awarded the Silver Star for actions in combat during the last 10 years.

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