Climax native earns 2nd Bronze Star

Published 6:50 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MASTER SGT. SHANNON W. BLANTON recently received his second Bronze Star medal, presented by Col. Mitchell Butikofeer, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing in which Blanton serves.


Climax Correspondent

Wayne and Patricia Blanton of Climax have every reason to be proud of their son, Master Sgt. Shannon W. Blanton, U.S. Air Force. On Monday, Feb. 27, he received his second Bronze Star in a ceremony at Warner Robins Air Force Base.

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The Bronze Star Medal is the military’s fourth highest combat award for bravery, heroism and meritorious service. According to information provided by his parents, Blanton, along with Tech Sgt. Ruben Martinez, were both presented the prestigious medal by Col. Mitchel Butikofer, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing, in which both Blanton and Martinez serve.

The most recent medals were awarded for service between October 2010 and March 2011, during a six-month deployment in Afghanistan. Both men received their first medal for their service in Iraq in 2009.

Blanton, who was noted as “an intrepid combat leader,” led more than 100 combat counterintelligence missions, synchronizing efforts to pinpoint and defeat threats to coalition forces, according to a citation read during the ceremony on Monday.

His tactical skill helped the unit identify insurgent and facilitator and produce more than 400 critical intelligence reports, allowing teams to target high value persons, the citation stated.

As team leader, Blanton rapidly organized a joint operation to disable an improvised explosive device, “saving lives along a critical coalition travel route,” the citation reads. He also calmly directed his team during a vehicle rollover, resulting in no deaths.

Both Blanton and Martinez said they were humbled and honored by the recognition.

Blanton said, “The biggest thing is to go over, bring everybody home, and make a difference while you’re over there. While you’re in the areas, you really don’t think about medals or the outcome.”

According to Blanton’s parents, Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Bowen, of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Center and 78th Air Base Wing Commander Chief, said that earning two Bronze Stars is unique and a lot of people don’t receive such medals. Even being considered for a Bronze Star is quite a testament to the accomplishments of a person, but then it must go through a rigorous process and much scrutiny before it is approved.

Blanton’s mother, Patricia, said, “We are thankful to God that Shannon is safely home.”

Most in Climax will remember a young man just graduating from high school and setting out on a journey to accomplish a goal he had set, to become an airman in the U.S. Air Force, in the year 1993.

Eighteen years later, Climax is proud to say Shannon Blanton is another one of our hometown heroes. We also thank God for his safe return, and continue to pray for those who have yet to come home.