SA battles terrorists to earn Bronze Star with Valor

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

An OSI Special Agent was recently awarded Bronze Stars with Valor following his actions during a 2020 terrorist attack in Manda Bay, Kenya.

Special Agent Joshua Klepac, who deployed as part of OSI Expeditionary Detachment 2506 to Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, from Nov. 2019 to Feb. 2020, received the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions during a presentation ceremony at OSI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.

“Josh is a true example of bravery and selflessness in the face of adversity,” Brig. Gen. Terry Bullard, OSI commander. “His unwavering determination and leadership on the front lines in Kenya serves as an inspiration to us all and a testament to the strength and courage of our OSI teammates.”

During an attack by terrorists, and with U.S. personnel and multiple aircraft lost, Klepac gathered a team of Airmen and led them to reestablished communication nodes between the base and airfield, before linking up with U.S. Marine and Kenyan special operations teams.

“My partner and I woke to the sound of explosions happening at the airfield around 0500 hours,” Klepac said. “Upon hearing these distant explosions south of us, we began receiving indirect fire (mortars) within the camp.  One of the explosions caused rocks and shrapnel to hit the roof of our living quarters.

“I had flown into the base 48 hours before the attack, so I was not very familiar with the area,” Klepac added. “Once the attack happened: All I knew is that I wanted to help anyone in any way I could.”

The team coordinated a combined response with the Kenyan ground forces commander, bringing order to the chaos.

But his bravery was not limited to battle tactics. During the fray, he also recognized the importance of evacuating the injured and fallen. He assembled a security detail to lead a causality evacuation team to the airfield, putting his own life on the line to protect others.

Under fire, he established a fighting position and secured the north end of the airfield to help pave the way for special operations teams to clear the south end without being cut off.

“For a moment, my responsibilities of being an agent went out the window and I turned to my training of protecting my team, my brother and sisters in uniform, and defending the base in any way possible,” Klepac said.

Even after the attack, the OSI investigator refused to rest. He left his fighting position to alert the special operators of an upcoming Kenyan air strike so they could evacuate safely

His citation reads, “The actions of Technical Sergeant Joshua L. Klepac reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force. He has distinguished himself by his bravery and devotion to duty in the face of extreme danger.”

After the dust settled in Kenya, Klepac’s actions also led to systems to help vet local nationals seeking base employment, ensuring the protection of thousands of personnel and millions of dollars in assets, the citation read.

"This level of heroism serves as a reminder that even in the darkest of hours, there are still heroes who rise to the occasion and protect what is right,” Bullard said.