JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A New River Marine has received the Bronze Star for his actions while serving in Afghanistan.

In a media release, it was announced that Master Sgt. Kevin W. Haunschild, a Marine Corps Air Station New River Air Traffic Control staff noncommissioned officer, was awarded the Bronze Star by Lt. Col. Robert D. Barbaree III, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron commanding officer, MCAS New River, for heroic actions in support of the Afghanistan noncombatant evacuation operation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Aug. 15-17, 2021.

While serving as the Marine air traffic control mobile team leader with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Haunschild took action to invigorate air-traffic control operations in Kabul, Afghanistan.

“There was anywhere from four to 5,000 civilian and Taliban mixed in over on that side of the airport, where we were where we had to get the equipment, as well as that Afghan controller that we were able to bring back cross with us,” Haunschild said.

It’s reported he selflessly ventured onto the active runway to clear an obstruction while surrounded by an unknown disposition of enemy forces and approximately 10,000 civilians.

His courageous actions to rescue a stranded Afghan air traffic controller and retrieve mission-essential radio equipment while taking hostile small-arms fire allowed evacuation operations to resume safely.

“I was able to take a team from the 10th Mountain soldiers that were there with us, there was about five of us that took a truck, I led the team to go over there to get the Afghan and the equipment that was left,” Haunschild said.

His leadership and efforts directly contributed to the evacuation of 144,000 eligible
noncombatants, the evacuation of military personnel from more than 23 nations, the reception of more than 2,808 tons of cargo, and the extraction of 1,277 tons of cargo.

In total, Haunschild ensured the rapid tempo for the conduct of the evacuation, denying hostile forces the time needed to develop and execute attacks. Without Haunschild’s direct contributions to airfield operations, the flow of aircraft would have stopped, and the noncombatant evacuation operation would have halted, resulting in negative strategic-level impacts.

“it’s surreal,” Haunschild said. “It’s very humbled, very honored. It is a very big deal.”

The Bronze Star is awarded to individuals who, while serving in any capacity with the armed
forces of the United States, distinguish themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or
service, not involving participation in aerial flight.