A Marine noncommissioned officer who helped manage air traffic during the chaotic evacuation of the Kabul airport in August 2021 was awarded a Bronze Star on Friday.
Master Sgt. Kevin Haunschild, stationed in Marine Corps Air Station New River in North Carolina, served as the Marine air traffic control mobile team leader with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162, part of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to a unit news release.
“He selflessly ventured onto the active runway to clear an obstruction while surrounded by an unknown disposition of enemy forces and approximately 10,000 civilians,” the release stated. “His courageous actions to rescue a stranded Afghan air traffic controller and retrieve mission-essential radio equipment while taking hostile small-arms fire allowed evacuation operations to resume safely.”
Haunschild also “ensured the rapid tempo for the conduct of the evacuation,” helping evacuate 144,000 noncombatants, as well as troops from more than 23 nations, according to the release.
A total of 13 Marines have received Bronze Stars for their actions during the evacuations, with two Marines, Maj. Benjamin Sutphen and Cpl. Wyatt Wilson, earning them with the “V” for valor device, according to Manpower and Reserve Affairs spokesman Maj. Jordan Cochran.
At least two Marines from Haunschild’s air traffic control team — Capt. Zackary Dahl and Gunnery Sgt. Julio JoseMendez — received the Bronze Star in 2022.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.