759th LRF officer awarded Bronze Star

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado
  • 459 ARW/PA

Maj. Russell Pangburn was recently awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement while deployed to Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Inherent Resolve from Sept. 2019 to April 2020.

Pangburn is a Logistics Readiness Officer with the 759th Logistics Readiness Flight here at the 459th Air Refueling Wing. When the opportunity to deploy to Iraq surfaced last year, Major Pangburn, having deployed to Iraq before, jumped at the opportunity.

“I’ve deployed to Iraq before and it was a great deployment, I didn’t think this one would be any different,” he said. “I was to take over as the director of operations which I already had experience from when I was at the 69th Aerial Port Squadron. Surely this deployment was going to be similar.”

He was wrong. Pangburn was in for many surprises on this particular deployment. Once he arrived to Camp Taji, Iraq, he assumed the role as the Director of Operations for the 442nd Air Expeditionary Squadron, 447th Air Expeditionary Group, 321st Air Expeditionary Wing. During this time, while exposed to the threat of improvised explosive devices and enemy rocket attacks, he led operations consisting of more than 100 Airmen spanning five geographically-separated units.

“There was a lot going on” he said. “Drone attacks, rocket attacks; it was rough. As the director of operations, my role was to support the commander; and in doing so, I had to travel to remote sites throughout the area of responsibility to ensure our aerial ports were supporting the overall mission’s goal to bring equipment and personnel to the fight.”

“Being a part of the mission that impacted Daesh’s war-fighting capability was quite the experience,” he said. “I never would have thought this deployment would be so intense; being in a constant state of alert was something I had to adjust to.”

His efforts didn’t stop there. As the senior ranking officer, Pangburn led a team of more than 20 Airmen from four career fields in a remote part of Syria. He held the sole responsibility of command and control on the last remaining landing zone in eastern Syria. His effortless leadership was critical to the safe air movement of cargo and personnel throughout the region.

While under constant threat of hostile fire, Pangburn’s efforts in a coalition contingency enabled the movement of 713 short tons of cargo and 217 passengers over 53 missions, which resulted in the safe return of personnel and assets from the eastern region of Syria.

His leadership and dedication to those under him, above him, and to the mission, earned him the prestigious Bronze Star.

“We are so proud of Maj. Pangburn,” said Lt. Col. William Short, 759 LRF Operations Officer. “He is the living embodiment of the combat-ready warrior that makes up the Reserve; his actions and accomplishments set a bar for all Airmen to strive to reach within the total force construct.” 

Pangburn said his deployment and being awarded the Bronze Star are both a humbling and proud moment he will never forget.

“As a reservist, you don’t get many opportunities to do this type of mission,” he said. “I am humbled and grateful to have received a Bronze Star. There are so many others that I served with that are deserving of this as well. My unit and the 459th prepared me for this deployment and I am truly proud of the mission I was able to participate in.”