Coraopolis, Pa. --
Senior Airman Joshua Harhai, an Engineering Assistant assigned to the 171st Civil Engineer Squadron has been awarded the Army Combat Action Badge during a recent deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan March 18, 2018.
The Combat Action Badge is awarded for having been personally present and under direct hostile enemy fire during combat operations.
As Harhai was putting his equipment away at the end of the day, a Type 63 107mm rocket was fired by Taliban forces into Camp Dahlke. He had just finished setting up an initial basic expeditionary airfield resource base layout for contractors. Harhai and others immediately took cover as the rocket was intercepted by a counter rocket, artillery, and mortar missile defense system above him.
It felt like the rocket exploded about 15 feet above us, said Harhai.
After the rocket exploded above him, Harhai recalled the sound of high-pitch shrapnel hitting the ground very close to where he was taking cover in a concrete bunker.
“The rocket comes in and the C-RAM shoots it out of the sky right over top of us,” said Harhai.
Toward the end of the deployment, Harhai was called to an unexpected ceremony where he was presented the badge, and it was pinned on his uniform by U.S. Army Col. Anthony H. Adrian, 35th Engineer Brigade Commander.
“It was super surreal,” said Harhai when asked how he felt during the award ceremony.
“It’s a proud sense of feeling that you’re one of the few people in the Air Force that have it,” said Harhai.
During the deployment, Harhai supported the Army 659th Engineer Construction Company and the Army Security Forces Assistance Brigade, a mission aimed to train, advise and assist allied security forces. He was responsible for engineering tasks such as surveying, computer-aided design, map-making, horizontal and vertical design.
Harhai is excited and looking forward to the opportunity of deploying again.