MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Marines from the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing gathered for an award ceremony where Maj. Gen. Steven Busby, 3rd MAW commanding general, awarded a Bronze Star Medal to Gunnery Sgt. Kevin Anderson, the special security communications team chief with 4th Special Security Communications Team, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., April 11.
Anderson, a Puyallup, Wash., native, earned the award for providing village stability operations while serving under Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in Afghanistan, from Nov. 2010 to June 2011.
“What my team did was provide intelligence to support all of the infantry Marines in the area,” said Anderson. “We would receive intelligence such as the size of the opposing forces, their capabilities and locations then send it too our troops so they could fight back accordingly with every advantage we could provide.”
When Anderson first arrived, he was challenged with the task of operating with a dysfunctional targeting effort. Within 30 days, he increased the targeting effort deck efficiency by 400 percent. Additionally, within two months he retrained and refocused the signal team, resulting in more relevant information reports within the battle space.
“There was a great deal of ground work laid down, but what [the team] really needed was refinement,” said Anderson. “Once I got there, I did my best to just hit the ground running- and all you can do is work. That’s the kind of environment I like. It makes the time fly. So, when I finished one task I moved on to the next. We were continually able to find ways to improve the intelligence picture we received by about 400 percent. There’s no way to really quantify how many lives we might have saved, military and local both.”
While serving in Afghanistan, Anderson also took part in a Quick Reaction Force which responded to a distress call from a pinned down unit with an injured Marine.
“We rolled out as the QRF with five intelligence Marines and one generator mechanic in two vehicles,” said Anderson. “On our way to the site where they were, my vehicle got stuck in an irrigation ditch and was close to rolling. We were basically sitting ducks.”
Anderson described the force being fired upon by multiple weapons platforms including, AK-47s, Pulemyot Kalashnikov’s Machinegun and possible DShK 12.7 heavy machine gun fire, while mortar rounds and rocket propelled grenades continuously exploded around them for more than seven hours.
While all of this happened, Anderson knew he was in trouble if his vehicle was hit for one reason — his vehicle held all of the extra ammunition they were taking to the pinned down unit.
“[The situation] got pretty hairy pretty quick,” explained Anderson. “If they were to hit something on my vehicle, it would have been a fairly large explosion. I was really questioning if I was going to make it.”
In order to get away, Anderson’s force had to call in aerial support crew which dropped a 500 pound bomb 200 meters from their position, allowing the Marines to slip away in the confusion.
Although his family might not get to know all of what Anderson does, and has done in service to his country, they are still more than happy he came home safely.
“I feel really proud to support my husband,” Brandi Anderson, the 19-year veteran’s wife. “Watching him being acknowledged for the great work that he is doing is amazing. He is a huge part of our family and when he’s gone there’s something missing. Until he comes home we aren’t whole. I’m proud of him and I love him.”
Home safe and sound, Anderson continues to provide Marines the intelligence they need to succeed in their daily duties.