KILGORE, TX (KLTV) - For bravery in action in Afghanistan, an East Texas airman earned not one, but two bronze stars.
This past May, Air Force Master Sergeant Kenneth Huhman was awarded two bronze stars with valor for gallantry in action for separate combats in Afghanistan. In Longview his grandmother expected no less.
"I would have been more surprised if he hadn't been a hero - he was always a hero - if he hadn't been recognized as a hero," said Betty Kingery, Huhman's grandmother, "because he was always so determined. He said, 'I want to fight them over there so they don't come over here and attack my family.'"
A 1992 Kilgore graduate, Huhman is a combat controller. In September 2007 he and his unit fought off insurgent attacks on the ground with Huhman downing 41 insurgents himself. His unit suffered no American casualties. Often, Huhman was firing while calling for air strikes.
"We started running low on ammo," said Huhman. "We were pinned down pretty good, so then, I started talking to aircraft and started to maneuver them in position to drop bombs. The medal is just a medal it doesn't change the action. The honor comes from the respect you gain from your team-mates."
Two months later, his unit fought through another attack. Huhman again called in strikes while firing at insurgents.
"He always said when he was a little kid he was going to go and help defend his country," said Kingery. "I just can't say how proud I am of him."
But Huhman feels his decorations belong to everyone in his unit.
"We should be dedicated to this and anyone who's willing to stand with us for as long as it takes to ensure not just a safe America but a safe world," said Huhman.
He wants people to remember those who have put so much on the line.
"I see all the men and women that sacrifice are the true heroes of our nation," said Huhman. "I was just doing my little piece of the pie."
Sergeant Huhman is currently stationed closer to home, at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. He is serving as a recruiter for combat controllers.