Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. –
The noncommissioned officer in charge of quality assurance for the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight received the Bronze Star for exceptionally meritorious service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom here Wednesday.
Tech. Sgt. William Baird received the medal from Col. Steven Harrison, 437th Airlift Wing vice commander.
"It feels humbling because I'm a simple person like everyone else," said Sergeant Baird.
Sergeant Baird received the medal for distinguishing himself while deployed to Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Balad, Iraq during ground combat from Sept. 21, 2005 to Jan. 28, 2006. During this period, he led 82 EOD missions and conducted 18 post blast investigations where his thorough searches ensured the absence of secondary devices meant to target first responders.
"The most fulfilling part of my job is making sure others don't get hurt," he said. "If it meant that doing my job could help someone else get home safely to their families, then I'd gladly do it again."
Sergeant Baird also had a role in five weapons cache search and destroy missions and collaboration with frontline Army units resulting in the destruction of 736 enemy ordnance and weapons items. His final tally was 91 S5-K rockets, 62 82 mm mortars, 10 120 mm mortars and 350 blasting caps.
"I just feel it's a part of my duty and obligation that those explosive devices don't set," Sergeant Baird said.
Sergeant Baird led his team of eight individuals to render safe 14 improvised explosive devices designed to kill friendly forces. He also developed a comprehensive incident tracking system guaranteeing accurate data accumulation for 635 EOD responses.
"There's no one out on the roadways who has the opportunity, training and knowledge to take care of those devices like EOD," he said.
Sergeant Baird also said the significance of his recent achievement lies in the medal's history and tradition of the Bronze Star.
"I was recognized for my performance in the combat environment. It's an honor. People in my position and rank rarely ever earn this type of achievement," he said.
The Bronze Star is the fourth highest award for bravery, heroism or meritorious achievement of service, not involving aerial flight in connection with operations against an opposing armed force.