by Sgt. John Jackson 1st MarLog
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – Two years ago, then Gunnery Sgt. Kelly Minkler arrived in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, as an explosive ordnance disposal section leader with 1st EOD Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). During that deployment, Minkler was in direct support of Weapons Co., 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines.
Now Warrant Officer Minkler is once again in Afghanistan with 1st EOD Co., 1st MLG (Fwd) – this time as the company operations officer. Though Minkler is just starting his current deployment, he was recognized April 18, for his actions while in combat two years earlier.
Pictured: Warrant Officer Kelly Minkler, (left), operations officers, 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), stands with Lt. Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Central Command, after being awarded the a Bronze Star with a Combat Distinguishing Device, April 18. After rendering safe a never before seen improvised explosive device, Minkler was able to train EOD technicians and infantrymen throughout the battle space on new enemy tactics, techniques and procedures.
According to his award citation, Minkler and his team were on a patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan when a service member noticed disturbed earth. Minkler investigated the area and identified a kite string leading to the north. Without hesitation, Minkler conducted the proper immediate actions, severing the kite string and rendering safe a command pull Improvised Explosive Device.
Furthermore, Minkler positively identified the insurgent who was planning to detonate the IED and ordered a direct fire engagement of the triggerman. After the insurgent was eliminated, he then continued to investigate the IED. The device, which consisted of an anti-disturbance switch and a 35 pound directional fragmentation charge, was a new enemy tactic never before seen in Afghanistan. Minkler’s unflinching and immediate actions along with his expert analysis of the scene prevented serious injury to the members of his patrol and helped to train and educate infantry squad leaders throughout the battle space on new enemy tactics, techniques and procedures.
“This particular means of secondary initiation was the first time we had seen this TTP,” Minkler said. “I used the components after the device was safe to train other EOD technicians and infantrymen on this new, lethal threat to help preserve the lives of my fellow Marines.”
Minkler, who is currently on his fifth combat deployment, gives credit to his EOD counterpart and the Marines of Weapons Co.
“My teammate Staff Sgt. Chad Hraha and the infantrymen of Weapons Co. did a phenomenal job [that day],” Minkler said. “They provided me the optimum setting to accomplish my mission safely. We were a team, and they treated me as one of their own.”