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Capt John P. Tate (M.S. Information Resource Mgt, 2005) earns Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan
Posted: 11/24/2009 by AFIT Public Affairs

Captain John Tate

By Mike Wallace
Skywrighter Staff

Maj. Gen. Curtis Bedke, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory, presented the Bronze Star to Capt. John Tate in a ceremony Nov. 13 in Kenney Auditorium, Air Force Institute of Technology, Bldg. 642.

Tate, of AFRL’s sensors directorate, returned from Afghanistan in August after a year in which he “did Operations work for the Army.”Originally he filled a communications officer slot, but after two months, Tate said, “The ops mentor rotated home, and my boss moved me ‘temporarily’ to help with operations.”

He received the Bronze Star primarily for his outstanding work as an operations officer supporting the 2nd Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army, Combined Security Transition Command.

A quick learner, Tate said that he was mentor to an Afghan lieutenant colonel and his staff, and coordinated efforts “to get teams to work together.” While in a situation admittedly not typical for an Air Force officer, Tate said he “had enough Army people and Marines assigned with me if I had questions. We didn’t have to get to details at that level.” Tate also “coordinated air assets between Army and Air Force units,” and was able to interact with Afghans. A veteran of “70 convoys or so,” Tate served as convoy commander on several trips. He said, “Anywhere the Afghans went, we would ‘roll’ with them. It was safer that way.” Tate said that he coordinated on supplies and reinforcements for a unit ambushed in a remote location, and “moved Afghans there.” Calling his time in Afghanistan a “fast year,” Tate said that he normally worked seven days a week except part of Fridays. He added, “We were truly ‘joint.’ Our commander was a Marine (Lt. Col. Louis Palazzo), and we had Army, Air Force, and Navy people there. About 140 people worked with 3,500Afghans. “We went nowhere by ourselves. There were always Afghans in our convoys.” Acknowledging the growing threat of improvised explosive devices, Tate recalled, “The IED threat was big in some areas. The bigger threat was on unpaved roads. Afghans would get very upset if paved roads were blown up. Also, cell phone towers didn’t get blown up either because cell phones are how the Taliban talked to each other.”

One especially good point about serving in Afghanistan was the food. Tate said, “They feed you well. Kellogg, Brown and Root ran the chow hall. We got eggs made-to-order, lobster tails, whatever you wanted. Also, there was a decent gym there.” Having served in Saudi Arabia earlier in his career, Tate said he had the “potential to go back” on another deployment on the next cycle. However, he said that before coming to Wright-Patterson, he had moved seven times, and another deployment would put him out of his Beavercreek home for two years.

About the possibility of another tour in Afghanistan, Tate simply said, “We’ll see.”

Wallace, Mike. "Capt. John Tate earns Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan." SKYWRIGHTER 20 Nov 2009, Vol. 50, No. 41: 1A. Print.

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