USAF combat controller who already earned Air Force Cross receives Airman’s Medal for heroics stateside

| June 14, 2021

Master Sergeant Daniel Keller (pictured here as a TSgt just before the award ceremony for his AFC)

A US Air Force battlefield airman, who was awarded the service’s second highest award for combat valor, the Air Force Cross, has now earned the service’s highest award for non-combat valor.

Military.com reports;

For Master Sgt. Daniel Keller, bravery isn’t confined to the battlefield.

The airman earned the highest Air Force award for noncombat bravery for rescuing a motorist from a burning SUV in Kentucky, a little over a year after earning the service’s second-highest award for heroism on the battlefield in Afghanistan.

The combat controller with the 123rd Special Tactics Squadron received the Airman’s Medal during a ceremony Saturday at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, the 123rd Airlift Wing said in a statement.

Keller was driving home from work Nov. 16, 2018, when he came up on the aftermath of a crash on a narrow bridge outside Louisville and jumped out of his truck to help. After assisting a man and his son from one vehicle, he enlisted bystanders to stop traffic so he could rescue the unconscious driver of the SUV.

“With complete disregard for his own safety, he broke the rear window and entered the burning vehicle,” the award citation says.

In 2017, Keller’s courage in a grueling battle with Islamic State militants in Afghanistan earned him the Air Force Cross — which he received about a year after the crash. Despite suffering a traumatic brain injury from a nearby blast, he’d directed critical airstrikes that killed dozens of enemy fighters, then risked his life to help evacuate wounded troops.

During the incident in Louisville, smoke inside the vehicle forced him to hold his breath, and when he reached the driver, he found the man’s foot was trapped and he couldn’t be pulled out away from the burning engine compartment.

“I couldn’t get him that way — and the smoke was really filling up the car, so I knew we had to try and get him out through the side or another way,” Keller said in the wing statement.

With the help of an unnamed woman, he squeezed between the burning SUV and the bridge railing to pull the driver out a side window and move him away from the burning wreck. He had to go back to help the woman, who had gotten trapped alongside the burning vehicle, and then they began performing CPR. That’s when Keller heard the familiar pop of gunfire.

Realizing ammunition inside the burning SUV was cooking off, he moved everyone back behind cover and continued providing medical care until emergency crews arrived.

While “by no means a medical expert,” he’d learned enough in the military to “buy time,” Keller said.

At last week’s ceremony, attended by about 100 of Keller’s family, friends and colleagues, Kentucky’s adjutant general Brig. Gen. Hal Lamberton praised him for his quick thinking and heroic selflessness off the battlefield.

“A lot of folks, when they’re confronted with a rapid change to their environment like that, have a tendency to want to get away from it,” Lamberton said. “But Dan’s character and training is what enabled him to not only recognize what the situation is, but take the appropriate action to address it.”

Category: Air Force, Air Force Cross, Air National Guard, Bravo Zulu, Real Soldiers, Valor

Comments (9)

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  1. MI Ranger says:

    Great Job MSgt Keller!!! Keep up the outstanding work.

  2. AW1Ed says:

    Bravo Zulu MSgt Keller!

  3. President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight says:

    You can hear his “CLANK CLANK” as he walks down the halls.

    • KoB says:

      Them Big Brass ones help counterbalance the big size of his character. Sew another stripe on this Hero’s sleeve.

      BZ MSgt Keller!

  4. Dr. Crypto says:

    Definitely High Speed, Low Drag!!

  5. Graybeard says:

    Good job, Master Sgt. Daniel Keller.

  6. ninja says:

    This 2019 article is for Les Brown’s ENABLERS (and they STILL enabled him, even AFTER his death) who are members of the POW*MIA Elko Awareness and the POW*MIA Awareness Rally Corporation, Pocatello, Idaho, who honored and worshipped a PHONY, LYING “MSG/E8″….

    This is what a REAL Hero and a REAL MSG/E8 looks like.

    MSG Keller even served our Country in the US Navy…!!!

    SALUTE TO MSG KELLER!

    Get your head out of your behinds, Elko and Pocatello!

    “Carlisle-Area Native Earns Second-Highest Medal For Valor In Action Against ISIS”

    https://cumberlink.com/news/local/carlisle-area-native-earns-second-highest-medal-for-valor-in-action-against-isis/article_6e9b587b-52ca-5f37-b209-bb927073bb97.html

    “I don’t think I’m a hero,” said Keller, a 2003 graduate of Cumberland Valley High School. To him, the real heroes are the men who died for their friends and the veterans that survive long-term physical and mental damage.”

    “From 2003 to 2009, Keller served in the U.S. Navy as an aviation boatswain’s mate on two aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, both home-ported in San Diego.”

    “His job was to work the catapults and arresting gear on an often hazardous flight deck while deployed with a carrier battle group in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

    “Honorably discharged, Keller went to a civilian school to be certified as a commercial welder for underwater construction. He worked a job in New Hampshire until January 2013 when he reentered the military, this time with the Air Force, and trained as a special tactics combat controller.”

    “The two-year course was so rigorous it had a 75 to 80 percent washout rate. But the training prepared him for the rigors ahead. In May 2016, he became a joint terminal attack controller, or JTAC.”

  7. Jay says:

    Air Force Cross, Airman’s Medal, Bronze Star, Purple Heart….and based off his photo above it also looks he spent some time in the Navy (Navy GCM).

    THIS GUY is what a legit hero looks like. He needs to give hip pocket classes (and kicks to the ass) of all these fuckin posers out there.

  8. Sparks says:

    Well done! Damned well done indeed Sir.