OWENSBORO, Ky. — A Kentucky Army National Guard veteran was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor on June 10 for his actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.
Sgt. John Burlew received the medal during a ceremony at the Owensboro Armory attended by Maj. Gen. Haldane B. Lamberton, Kentucky National Guard adjutant general, and Rep. Brett Guthrie.
Burlew served in the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 20th Special Forces Group.
While on patrol in a canyon in Afghanistan May 19, 2002, Burlew’s patrol came under direct enemy fire.
Burlew provided medical treatment to his special operations team and was also credited with providing cover fire during the same operations.
“Sergeant Burlew’s selfless devotion to duty while rendering medical aid to a critically wounded Soldier while under enemy fire is the core of the Army Values,” states the framed award certificate. “His technical and tactical proficiency during the entire deployment enhanced the Special Operations Team-Alpha’s signal intelligence operational support and force protection measures to mission success. Sergeant Burlew’s valorous courage under enemy fire reflects great credit upon himself, the Kentucky National Guard, and the United States Army.”
To get the award approved 20 years after Burlew’s actions, Kentucky Army National Guard’s Staff Sgt. Carl Cooper, G-1 awards manager, faced many hurdles.
Cooper brought the award to the attention of Lamberton, who helped reach out to Guthrie’s office to get the award approved.
“A lot of people were involved in this process, more than I can name, frankly,” said Burlew. “It’s nice, and it’s humbling that so many people care that much about it 20 years later to make sure it got pushed through.
“And it’s a complex deal to award medals to people that aren’t in the service anymore. You can’t just go back to your old unit and have them do it. ... It’s a big deal. I’m thankful and humble.”
Lamberton was excited to be able to bring recognition to Kentucky veterans.
“We have a mindset, a Soldier for life,” said Lamberton. “Sgt. Burlew, you’re a Kentucky Guardsman for life.
“I appreciate the example that you set for your actions and your camaraderie with your fellow Soldiers. Being able to recognize you for those efforts is very unique.”