On Apr 6th, 2008, while assigned as an Air Force Special Tactics CCT, SrA Zachary Rhyner executed a day rotary-wing infiltration with his Special Forces team to capture high-value insurgents in a village on the surrounding mountains. While climbing near vertical terrain to reach their objective, the team was attacked in a well-coordinated and deadly ambush. Devastating sniper, machine gun, and rocket-propelled grenade fire poured down on the team from elevated and protected positions on all sides, immediately pinning down the assault force. Without regard for his life, SrA Rhyner placed himself between the most immediate threats and provided suppressive fire with his M-4 rifle against enemy fire while teammates were extracted from the line of fire. SrA Rhyner bravely withstood the hail of enemy fire to control eight Air Force fighters and four Army attack helicopters. Despite a gunshot wound to the left leg and being trapped on a 60-ft cliff under constant enemy fire, SrA Rhyner controlled more than 50 attack runs and repeatedly repelled the enemy with repeated danger close air strikes, several within 100 meters of his position. Twice, his actions prevented his element from being overrun during the intense six-and-a-half-hour battle. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, SrA Rhyner reflected the highest credit upon himself and the Air Force.
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