Sharpe earns Bronze Star

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 8, 2011

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam – Chief Master Sergeant Bud Sharpe, 36 Civil Engineer Squadron Superintendent, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal Dec. 29 here for his courage and commitment to mission accomplishment in a combat zone, under the most extreme of circumstances.

Chief Sharpe returned to Andersen Air Force Base in November after a seven-month deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where he served as superintendent of the 955th Air Expeditionary Squadron.

According to his Bronze Star Medal certificate, Chief Sharpe’s leadership was pivotal in integrating more than 1,200 Joint Expeditionary Tasked Airmen at more than 37 austere operating locations into a cohesive organization supporting the joint fight.

“Because you’re in a new environment, with an unfamiliar culture and away from family, it can be hard for airmen to stay motivated and focused on the mission,” Chief Sharpe said. “It was challenging, but it was important to reassure them that everything would be alright and we were there to make an impact.”

Under his leadership the squadron’s Airmen provided crucial combat support to more than 32,000 personnel within the Afghan National Army, the Afghan National Police and 11 Joint Task Forces in four regional commands. Additionally, Chief Sharpe successfully completed 18 outside-the-wire missions to various regions and camps under the constant threat of small-arms fire and improvised explosive devices.

“This deployment was different than others I have been on because there was a persistent threat,” Chief Sharpe said. “There was never a time when I wasn’t thinking about the impact my instruction could have on the Airmen and Soldiers around me.”

Chief Sharpe’s exceptional combat leadership was brought to light in May, during the largest complex attack in Bagram Airfield’s history when 20 Taliban insurgents armed with suicide vests, rocket propelled grenades and assault rifles attempted to breach the base’s perimeter.

The superintendent ensured the safety, security and readiness of more than 2,500 personnel. As a result, he was chosen by the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander to assist in establishing “rules of engagement” for Camp Cunningham in the event of future attacks.

Despite these lofty contributions, when asked why he felt he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Chief was at a loss.

“It’s quite an honor to receive the Bronze Star Medal,” Chief Sharpe said, “although, it feels more like a team award to me. We couldn’t have accomplished our mission if it wasn’t for our incredible group of Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines. I am grateful for their service and many of these warriors made the ultimate sacrifice.

Chief Sharpe wishes to honor his fallen comrades by speaking out about their experiences and courage in the face of adversity.

“I don’t know if I will ever understand why my life was spared so many times, when many of our battle buddies were not. I imagine one of the reasons was to return and tell their story for them; to always honor and remember their service. I think about their families and know that coping with their loss is even more difficult for them. They will never be forgotten.”

Sharpe, who pent many of his formative years in Andalusia, is the son of Don Sharpe and Judy Sharpe. Born in Montgomery, he lived in Andalusia from 1973 until 1980, and graduated from Woodham High School in Pensacola, Fla., in 1982. He joined the Air Force that same year.

He previously had been deployed to Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.