KABUL, Afghanistan – A U.S. Air Force Airman from Altus successfully defended his forward operating base here during a more than four hour insurgent attack, July 17, 2014. Tech. Sgt. Matthew Treadwell, son of Greg and Sheila Treadwell of Snyder, is currently deployed and serving as a Security Forces member with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing at Forward Operating Base OQAB, at Kabul International Airport. The wing’s mission is to set the conditions for a professional, independent, and sustainable Afghan Air Force to meet the present and future security requirements of Afghanistan. Treadwell is assigned as an air advisor to Afghan Air Force security forces. This marks the second deployment for Treadwell, who also previously served in Iraq. In the pre-dawn hours of July 17, a group of anti-Afghanistan forces gained access to a multi-story building under construction approximately 350 meters from the base and airport fence line. Fighting from the rooftop and windows on several stories, the attackers began firing rocket propelled grenades and shooting automatic weapons at the Afghan Air Force base adjoining the airport, and the U.S. Air Force FOB within the compound. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to multiple media sources.
Treadwell was asleep in his living quarters when he was awakened by explosions and gunfire just after 4 a.m. He confirmed the situation was an attack by contacting the operations center and with information from other security forces in the guard towers. He ran outside with his protective gear on to see where he could help defend. A fellow security forces member, Tech. Sgt. Rafael Melendez, picked up a truck (a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, or MRAP), added Treadwell and four other members to the truck, and headed out as part of a two-vehicle quick reaction force intending to position closer and more advantageously against the enemy. When they arrived between two nearby buildings, Treadwell decided to go for a closer position.
“I asked the quick reaction force leader, Tech. Sgt. (Rafael) Melendez, to go into the building for a close engagement.”
Treadwell and Tech. Sgt. Randy Sampson entered a nearby building and made their way to a position just over 100 meters from the building the attackers were firing from. “I got off six or seven shots from the hallway, then went into a room to the right, but had no shot. Then we went to the left and found to offices with a good position. We moved around in there, firing. I fired about 90 rounds, and we talked to Melendez, calling out the enemy position to direct machine gun fire. During this time, the Afghans started firing at the attackers from a position behind ours.”
The insurgents fired more than 20 rocket propelled grenades at the Afghan, U.S., and coalition forces and assets during the attack, detonated a vehicle-borne IED, and donned suicide vests. Due to the suppressive fire provided by Treadwell and his Airmen, the attacks were not particularly accurate. There was minor damage to facilities and property, but friendly forces received no significant injuries and no casualties during the battle.
The attack ultimately ended when an Afghan-led quick reaction force, enabled by the suppressive fire from Treadwell and other Air Force defenders, arrived at the enemy position and swept the building to eliminate the remaining attackers. Based on preliminary analysis, at least four insurgents were killed.
Treadwell has seen action before in a previous deployment, but said this experience was different – and better.
“The first time, I couldn’t fire back due to my position,” he said. “This time, I could. It feels different, and it feels like we were more accomplished. Our Airmen — most of them on their first deployment and having their first experience shooting and getting shot at — performed phenomenally. I couldn’t ask for a better group. This is the team to have!”
Treadwell is deployed from his home station of Altus Air Force Base, where he works as the NCO in charge of combat arms for the 97th Security Forces Squadron.