A special operations airman who died in Afghanistan this summer will posthumously receive the third-highest military combat decoration.
Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, were honored by Secretary Deborah Lee James at a state of the Air Force briefing Monday.
Roland and Sibley were killed in August after two men wearing Afghan security forces uniforms opened fire at a vehicle checkpoint at Camp Antonik, a forward operating base in Helmand Province.
"In their combined 12 years of service, Matt and Forrest deployed seven times. In addition to the Purple Hearts, Forrest earned five Bronze Stars, including one for Valor, and very, very soon, we will posthumously honor Matt's heroism with the Silver Star," James said.
Roland, a 2010 Air Force Academy graduate, was a special tactics officer at the 23rd Tactics Squadron, according to the 24th Special Operations Wing. He became a team leader who supervised the training of 34 airmen and had deployed three times in five years.
"The losses of Matt and Forrest are a terrible blow to everyone who knew them," Col. Wolfe Davidson, 24th SOW commander, said in a news release at the time of the attack.
Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, shown, and Capt. Roland died Aug. 26 in Afghanistan after two men wearing Afghan security forces uniforms opened fire at a vehicle checkpoint.
Photo Credit: Air Force
"These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation's Special Operations Forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation," he said.
In addition to his multiple Bronze Star awards, Sibley, a combat controller with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, deployed four times during his seven-year Air Force career.
Oriana Pawlyk covers deployments, cyber, Guard/Reserve, uniforms, physical training, crime and operations in the Middle East, Europe and Pacific for Air Force Times. She was the Early Bird Brief editor in 2015. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.