Senior Airman Andrew Nichols, a pararescueman with the Alaska Air National Guard's 212th Rescue Squadron, receives the Bronze Star in a ceremony Dec. 7. (Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Theulen/Air Force)
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The bullets were still flying when Senior Airman Andrew Nichols and his teammate landed and jumped off the Pave Hawk.
American soldiers had been ambushed July 19, 2011, and one soldier lay badly injured 100 meters away from the landing zone. Nichols and his teammate, Master Sgt Kris Burridge of the 58th Rescue Squadron, had no other choice. They sprinted through the gunfire to get to the wounded soldier.
“I’ve trained hundreds of times for firefights and, in the moment, it seemed like training,” said Nichols, who was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor on Dec. 7 for his actions that day.
Burridge coordinated support from OH-58 Kiowas and the Pave Hawk while Nichols treated the soldier, applying a tourniquet before rushing him back to the helicopter.
Nichols said he appreciates the award, but he’s happy to have the ceremony out of the way so he can get back to work with the 212nd Rescue Squadron.
“Receiving the award was good,” Nichols said in an e-mail to Air Force Times. “It’s good to have it done with. I’d much rather be wearing my gear and training or doing another Alaska mission than wearing my blues and doing the Air Force stuff. ... I’ve never trained for an interview or to be on stage. My palms were more sweaty receiving the award than they were actually doing the mission.”