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Recruiting NCO to receive Bronze Star Medal

  • Published
  • By Annette Crawford
  • Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs
"People first."

It's more than just a phrase for Master Sgt. Michael Staggs. It was the philosophy that saw him through a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

Staggs filled several roles, primarily as the senior enlisted advisor for the Defense Contract Management Agency, a joint-service unit that covered all of Afghanistan.

Working upwards of 14 hours a day, seven days a week, Staggs ensured the more than 200 Airmen under his oversight had what they needed to get the job done. He was also known as a Blue Line Warrior, serving as the liaison between the Air Force and DCMA, and finally, as DCMA operations superintendent.

And while Staggs feels he was just doing his job, his actions earned him the Bronze Star Medal, which will be presented June 4 at Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service.

The 20-year veteran and Cincinnati native was working as the AFRS NCO in charge and Basic Military Training Liaison at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, when he was tagged to deploy. Before departing in April 2013, he attended an advanced combat skills training course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., for 34 days, where he was immersed in field conditions, communications and navigation. The training readied him for the mission in Afghanistan, a position unlike anything he had done before in his Air Force career. His previous deployment experience was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for two months in support of Operation Uphold Democracy.

"I traveled the whole area of responsibility as the commander's point man," Staggs said. "I had operational oversight of all the personnel and property, and also helped with any Air Force-specific issues."

To visit the nearly 40 locations, Staggs traveled on more than 230 ground convoy missions and 190 helicopter and fixed wing flights.

"I took at least six direct fire attacks and 50-plus indirect fire attacks while I traveled around the AOR," he said.

Staggs had operational experience with heavy construction equipment during five years in the civil engineering career field, which helped him identify a volatile situation with ill-equipped non-tactical vehicles shortly after he arrived in country. He traded in the inadequate vehicles for superior ones. His action in this regard saved six lives when one of his teams was hit by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, or SVBIED.
The convoy was hit only five feet away from the first vehicle. According to the Bronze Star Medal narrative, the team also incurred small arms fire after the blast but pressed on and returned fire. Of the six casualties, one needed to be medically evacuated, and "without hesitation Sergeant Staggs jumped on the medical evacuation helicopter with his troop to Bagram Airfield."

Staggs, who is now the HQ AFRS Superintendent of BMT Liaison at JBSA-Lackland, said that working in a joint environment was a learning experience.

"Having the other U.S. and other countries' services around was interesting to see how they do business and deal with certain issues for the enlisted members," Staggs said.
"I've known Master Sergeant Staggs since he was a staff sergeant assigned as an operations NCO in the 362nd Recruiting Squadron," said Senior Master Sgt. Pedro Colon Jr., superintendent of enlisted accessions at HQ AFRS.

"Even then, he was an acknowledged expert and trusted leader," Colon added. "I was extremely pleased to know I would be working with him again at AFRS - he makes my job very easy."

Staggs, who became a recruiter in May 1999, said the deployment changed the way he looks at life.

"I will never take for granted the time we have here on earth and what is really important. I'm tailoring that mindset into my everyday life at work and home," said Staggs, the father of three sons.

"I will look at situations in a different light, and mentor and guide people to what is most important to accomplish, whether personally or professionally," he added. "Always do a great job, but never lose who you are and what is most important in life."