In early April 2017, Air Force Staff Sgt. Alaxey Germanovich was attached to a team of Army special forces and Afghan commandos on a mission to clear a valley in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province when they became entangled in close combat with enemy forces, which quickly grew into a “ferocious firefight.”

During the eight-hour battle, Germanovich, a combat controller with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, exposed himself to enemy fire on numerous occasions, coordinated close air support and facilitated a medical evacuation for the wounded.

Now more than three years later, Germanovich, who joined the Air Force in 2012, is to receive the Air Force Cross Thursday for his actions in Afghanistan that day — becoming the 12th special tactics airman to earn the award since the 9/11 terror attacks.

According to his Air Force Cross citation, Germanovich and his special forces team — along with Afghan partner forces — had been involved in close combat with enemy forces for 17 days. On April 8, he and other friendly forces were attempting to clear a well-fortified valley when they were ambushed by enemy fighters and subjected to “intense machine gun and sniper fire.”

“A ferocious firefight ensued, enveloping friendly forces with countless enemy fighting positions as insurgents continued to reinforce from all sides of the valley,” the citation reads. “Without hesitation, he deliberately placed himself in grave danger by sprinting toward his isolated teammates, traversing 70 meters of open terrain and a fusillade of machine gun fire.”

“He directed multiple strafing runs, with 500-pound and 2,000-pound bomb strikes as close as 90 meters from his position,” the citation reads.

Additionally, Germanovich covered friendly forces with his own body to protect them from enemy fire after a member of his team suffered a mortal injury, and coordinated close air support from an Air Force Special Operations Command AC-130 gunship as close as 20 meters from his position to subdue enemy forces.

With the team expending all of their rifle ammunition and grenades, they drew their pistols in an attempt to suppress the advancing enemy, according to an Air Force news release. Germanovich directed his team’s withdrawal and coordinated a medical evacuation for a wounded soldier. He helped carry the soldier 700 meters uphill to a landing zone to meet the medical evacuation helicopters — all while simultaneously calling for close air support.

“During eight hours of intense enemy attack and complete disregard for his personal safety, Airman Germanovich’s actions directly resulted in the protection of over 150 friendly forces and the lethal engagement of 11 separate fighting positions,” the citation reads.

Germanovich’s other awards and decorations include the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Air Force Combat Action Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

The Air Force Cross is one of the highest awards an airman can earn — just under the Medal of Honor — and is given to those who “display extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States,” according to an Air Force news release.

Those interested in viewing the ceremony at 11:30 a.m. MST on Dec. 10 , in which Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett will present the award to Germanovich, may watch it during “live” streaming on the Air Force Special Tactics Facebook page.

The ceremony will be held at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico, where Germanovich is currently stationed.

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