Master Sergeant Samuel McCalister II, USAF

Representing U.S. Air Force
During the Global War on Terrorism, MSgt McCalister led 410 combat missions and cleared 7,000 miles of routes, for which he was awarded the Air Force Combat Action Medal. He has received multiple awards and decorations, including four Bronze Stars. MSgt McCalister received his first Bronze Star for investigating a sketchy IED; he dodged sniper fire to seize the evidence and build a targeting package. He tracked a high-value target for 24 hours on foot, breaching a compound and capturing small arms as well as three members of the Taliban. For these actions, he earned his second Bronze Star. He received his third Bronze Star for remaining calm under enemy fire; he located and safed an IED by hand while dismounted during a firefight, saving his platoon. He was awarded his fourth Bronze Star for saving 64 coalition forces when he joined with Afghan National Army forces for a demolition operation and located a full-up IED in cache, evacuating the area.

MSgt McCalister was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his work running a Nigerian Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) school. He revised its counter-improvised explosive device (IED) program and 103 courses, certifying 52 technicians to fight terrorism. He received the Air Force’s Commendation with Valor after he cleared an airfield during two rocket attacks, destroying 460K pounds of munitions and eliminating hazards from the battlefield.

His service record includes many other actions that exhibit extraordinary bravery. MSgt McCalister engaged a suicide bomber, coercing safe removal with a translator, and destroyed the vest. He saved 32 members of his platoon and detained the terrorist. MSgt McCalister led 3 Air Assault missions, destroying 104 unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and an IED staging area; he nabbed 12 evidence items and captured two high-value targets. Working with the Iraqi Army, he located, identified, and disposed of 5 mustard rounds, denying the enemy mass-casualty chemical weapons. MSgt McCallister liaised with the Niger National Police counter-terrorism unit, establishing the first joint counter-IED training program. He survived an IED strike, defeated a secondary device, cleared a path for medevac, and enabled vehicle recovery. His actions saved the lives of 4 soldiers. MSgt McCalister manually disarmed 2 IEDs on a pipeline with zero counter-measure protection, saving Iraq’s #1 refinery.