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Beaver County soldier's valor marked with Silver Star medal

| Thursday, June 19, 2014, 11:19 p.m.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
New Jersey Air National Guard member Mike Sears, of Beaver, was working as a bomb technician in Afghanistan where he rescued a Polish soldier and sustained traumatic brain injury during an ambush. Those actions awarded him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

Tech. Sgt. Mike Sears will be honored for his heroic actions in Afghanistan with the Silver Star Medal next week, but he considers his actions just part of the job.

“This is normal, routine stuff we've done in Afghanistan,” said Sears, 37, of Brighton in Beaver County. “So I didn't expect any award out of it. You just do your job. You don't feel that you need to be recognized for it.”

Sears will receive the award, the third highest honor for valor in combat, at the 177th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard based in New Jersey on June 28.

While deployed in Afghanistan with the Air National Guard, Sears worked as part of a three-man explosive operations team.

On a combat mission in 2012, he risked his life to save and protect a wounded Polish soldier and a medic. Sears suffered injuries to his left arm and a traumatic brain injury, but he remained in Afghanistan to finish his deployment.

In addition to the award being a “great personal honor,” Sears said it represents the accomplishments of his team.

“For one of us to receive a Silver Star,” he said, “it's a great honor for the career field.”

Josh Jerden, a member of Sears' three-man team, said the battle was terrifying.

“He put his life on the line to pretty much get what needed to be done for our Polish friend, who was missing most of his leg,” said Jerden, 28, of Knightsville, Fla. “I think he absolutely deserves it.”

The medal is presented to few soldiers, said Steve Monteleone, president of the veterans group It's About the Warrior Foundation. Monteleone said the selection process ­— nomination by a unit commander and a Pentagon review — is long and difficult.

“Mike is a great guy and a great soldier,” he said. “Nobody deserves it more, after what he went through.”

Megan Henney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7987 or mhenney@tribweb.com.

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