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Colonels receive Bronze Stars for combat service

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Two Kentucky Air Guard colonels have been awarded the Bronze Star for combat service in Afghanistan. 

Col. Mark Kraus, 123rd Airlift Wing commander, and Col. Steven P. Bullard, Kentucky Joint Force Headquarters director of joint doctrine and training, were recognized for their leadership in the face of the enemy during a ceremony held on base July 12. 

Both honors were presented by Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky's adjutant general. 

Colonel Kraus received his award for meritorious achievement as deputy commander of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group while the unit was engaged in ground operations against enemy forces at Bagram Air Field from May to September 2007. 

In support of the Global War on Terrorism, Colonel Kraus supervised six flying squadrons providing close air support, electronic attack, combat airlift and aeromedical evacuations throughout the Afghanistan theater of operations. 

His award citation noted a special accomplishment when the colonel took up a position in the Air Traffic Control Tower of the airbase following a rocket attack. 

During that period, he orchestrated more than 55,000 air traffic movements. 

Colonel Bullard was recognized for his command of the 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Air Field from September 2006 to March 2007. 

During his deployment, coalition forces faced the most intense combat in the nation since the start of the war in 2001. 

The colonel led 39,000 fighter, unmanned aerial vehicle, rotary wing and transport operations. 

During this intense period of the war, he facilitated the construction of an unmanned aerial vehicle ramp, advised international leaders and oversaw the delivery of critically needed equipment and supplies to facilitate coalition combatants. 

"This recognition is long overdue," General Tonini said during the ceremony. "What you did and accomplished made a major difference for the world."