Senior Airman Jason Cunningham
Jason was 26 years old, an Air Force PJ.
The battle is called Roberts Ridge, named for Neil Roberts, a SEAL who had earlier been thrown from a helicopter that was downed by enemy fire. Roberts was stranded on Takur Ghar, a 10K foot mountain in Afghanistan.
Two rescue helicopters were sent in to rescue Neil, but they were too late. Neil was dead. The two helicopters were quickly disabled by the guerrillas and a 17-hour battle began.
Our hero, Jason Cunninghan and Army medic Cory Lamereaux gave medical care to the wounded. Jason moved his wounded team mates three times, each time coming under enemy fire while doing so.
As the enemy moved in, both men fought off the attackers. Both men were shot. Lamereaux was hit in the belly but survived.
Jason was shot in the small of his back, through his pelvis. The bullet shattered his liver. He was really ticked about the whole thing and said he couldn’t believe they shot him.
Lamereaux and another medic knew Jason needed surgery immediately. They worked to save him as the commander called for help.
There would be no help for hours, until after dark when it was safer.
Nothing the medics did could keep Jason from slipping away.
The former sailor, who had become an Air Force pararescueman because he wanted to help others, died at 6 p.m.
The medivac arrived 90 minutes later.
Jason Dean Cunningham is buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Jason was a True Hero that day. But not just that day. He fought to save lives every day of his PJ career. One battle he won changed field medicine forever. Jason spearheaded the battle with the DoD to get blood products into the prehospital setting – first in the military and now in civilian emergency systems. There is no way to know how many lives Jason Cunningham saved because of his determination to push that through.
Certainly more than the ten he saved on Roberts Ridge.