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'A Tribute to Persistence:' SecAF Presents Air Force Cross to Special Tactics Airman

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, hugs his mother and father after being awarded the Air Force Cross during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

The father of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, joins in Memorial push-ups during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Drew Cyburt)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

The father of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, hugs his son during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Drew Cyburt)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, stands at attention during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Drew Cyburt)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

The family of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, watch as Germanovich’s award citation is read during his Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Drew Cyburt)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, places her hand over her heart while the audience salute the colors during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Drew Cyburt)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, hugs a member of the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) after an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, leads U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army Special Tactics service members as they perform memorial pushups following an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.

F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 311th Fighter Squadron perform a flyover during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, and Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, stand during the playing of the Air Force song during an Air Force Cross medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, bumps elbows with Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force during an Air Force Cross medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, and Germanovich’s family pose for a photo during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the Air Force Cross to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, salutes Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, after receiving the Air Force Cross during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, and his father, pose for a photo with the award citation during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, and his father, stand for a photo during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, hugs his father during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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The father of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, pins the Air Force Cross medal on his son during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, and Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, stand for the reading of the award citation during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Family members of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, stand for the reading of the award citation during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, watches as Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, speaks of his accomplishments during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, speaks of the accomplishments of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barrett presented the medal to Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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The Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard presents the colors during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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The Cannon Air Force Base Honor Guard presents the colors during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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U.S. Army Soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) sit during an Air Force Cross Ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. The Army special forces soldiers were with Germanovich during the firefight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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The Air Force Cross medal is displayed during an Air Force Cross ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the medal to Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions.
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The father of Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich, 26th Special Tactics Squadron combat controller, picks up the Air Force Cross medal before pinning it on his son during a medal ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Barbara Barrett, Secretary of the Air Force, presented the Air Force Cross to Staff Sgt. Germanovich for his actions during a fierce firefight in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, April 8, 2017. Germanovich’s efforts were credited with saving over 150 friendly forces and destroying 11 separate fighting positions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Washburn)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

Snapped awake by the sound of belt-fed machine gun fire, then-Senior Airman Alaxey Germanovich, a combat controller assigned to the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, surveys the compound he had dozed off in after several sleepless days of combat.

“I look around and I don’t see any of my American teammates,” said Germanovich. “(At that moment I said to myself) I need to find my friends right now.”

Grabbing his helmet and rifle, Germanovich bolted out of the compound and into the fight, where he saw several of the U.S. Army Special Forces Soldiers he was embedded with huddling for cover from behind a small rock.

“I knew then that I had to go get to my teammates and help them,” he said.

Germanovich’s base instinct would quickly turn into a grueling battle for survival, but it was those selfless impulses to save and protect his teammates that proved to be the difference between life and death for many of his teammates on that fateful day.

SecAF Commends Combat Controller for Valor

The 25th Secretary of the Air Force, Barbara M. Barrett, presented the Air Force Cross to now-Staff Sgt. Germanovich during a ceremony here, Dec. 10, 2020.

Germanovich was awarded the medal, second only to the Medal of Honor, for his actions on April 8, 2017, during combat operations against enemy forces in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan.

“This Air Force Cross is a tribute to your persistence (Staff Sgt. Germanovich),” said Barrett. “You risked your life and weathered blistering enemy fire to save the lives of others.”

In attendance were Col. Matthew Allen, 24th Special Operations Wing commander, the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) team Germanovich was attached to during the combat operations, and Germanovich’s family and friends.

Following the ceremony, Germanovich led those in attendance in memorial pushups to commemorate the event, the firefight and the ultimate sacrifice paid during the clash by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar, a Special Forces Soldier assigned to 7th SFG (A) and a member of the team Germanovich was assigned to. 

“This battle was a case study in toughness and extraordinary competence,” said Allen. “But it was also a case study in love. The type of love that demands teammates fight for one another and give everything they have.”

Germanovich’s actions as the air-to-ground liaison for his special operations forces team were credited with protecting the lives of over 150 friendly forces and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions.

Facing Hell, Calling for Fire

A native of Boiling Springs, S.C., Germanovich enlisted into the Air Force in November, 2012, with two goals in mind.

“I always knew I wanted a challenge,” said Germanovich. “I wanted to have a direct impact on the battlefield wherever I went.”

Five years later, both of those wishes would be granted when he deployed to Afghanistan and embedded with 7 SFG (A) Soldiers and their Afghan partners.

During his tour, the joint force was tasked with clearing several valleys in Nangarhar of fighters. As the multi-day operation progressed and the coalition forces pushed the insurgents closer to the Afghan border of Pakistan, the fighting became more and more violent, and it reached a head as Germanovich sprinted through heavy enemy fire to help the Special Forces Soldiers on that fateful day.

After reaching the rock his teammates were pinned down behind, Germanovich began to call in airstrikes to try and suppress the attack.

“It was working to a degree,” said Germanovich. “But we were still receiving extremely effective fire, and one of our partner force members had gotten shot.”

To evacuate the wounded Afghan commando, Germanovich began to call for strikes extremely close to their position in order to create more separation between the coalition forces and the insurgents.

“As the bombs were falling out of the sky, I started screaming at everybody to run for cover,” said Germanovich.

After the partner force member was evacuated, the special operations forces team launched their counter-attack. A separate unit from across the valley was able to pinpoint a key enemy bunker during the firefight, and Germanovich’s element, led by De Alencar, crawled their way towards the position.

Once the fire team reached the top of the bunker, Germanovich and De Alencar dropped grenades into its entrance. Then, as Germanovich secured the opening and De Alencar and the other Special Forces soldiers began to breach the bunker, insurgents ambushed the team from hidden positions to the south, mortally wounding De Alencar.

“The situation just became complete and utter chaos,” said Germanovich. “The team and I had expended all of our ordnance engaging enemy targets. We expended all of our grenades, there was no more pistol ammunition, and we were out of ammo completely.”

Lying prone with no cover from the attack, Germanovich put out a call to an AC-130U Spooky gunship aircraft that was leaving the area in order to refuel.

“As they were leaving, I said ‘if you don’t come back, we’re dead.’” said Germanovich.

The gunship did return and began to fire on the enemy fighters, which gave Germanovich and the soldiers the opportunity to move away and evacuate De Alencar.

“All the while, we’re still taking effective fire from the enemy,” said Germanovich. “We began dropping ordnance and basically bombing up this mountainside until we got to safety.”

Germanovich’s actions proved decisive on that battlefield and demonstrated the enormous impact of AFSOC’s precision strike mission, which provides ground force with specialized capabilities to find, assess and engage targets.

“You (Germanovich) told me earlier that you did what any one of your teammates would have done in the same situation,” said Allen. “But we don’t know that. We do know what you did that day: face and devastate a numerically superior enemy…this is why America’s enemies do not take us head on.”

Germanovich’s ability to enable precision strike operations and his bravery in the face of hostile fire are incredibly courageous in their own right, but it was the reason behind his valiant performance that makes him an unquestionable hero.

“It was 100% my teammates,” said Germanovich. “If I’m in danger, I know without a doubt in my mind that my teammates are going to do everything in their power to make sure that I come back, and I would do everything that I could possibly do to make sure that they come back.”