Taggart chosen top First Sergeant
By Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen, DMAVA Public Affairs
/ Published April 28, 2011
Egg Harbor Township, NJ -- Combat seems to forge exceptional Non-Commissioned Officers at the 177th Fighter Wing.
For the second time in four years, a 177th First Sergeant was chosen as the Air National Guard's First Sergeant of the Year, and like the previous recipient - Master Sgt. Daniel Mitchell Jr. - was also with the 177th Security Forces and had also served in Afghanistan.
Yet nearly a year ago, awards and honors were the furthest things from Master Sgt. Christopher R. Taggart's mind.
As the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron First Sergeant, Taggart had been dealing with various types of issues, ranging from the mundane - handling emergency leave requests - to managing the convoy operations for a visit between President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Two months into his tour at Bagram Airfield, all those details and issues faded into the background.
On the morning of May 19, 2010, Taggart found himself in the middle of a major coordinated attack by insurgents.
The attack began like most others, with indirect fire - rocket propelled grenades and mortars, which quickly escalated into small arms fire with the insurgents attacking various points of the base's perimeter.
While under enemy fire, Taggart transported more than 200 Airmen to the fight. In the ensuing hours, Taggart led a group of Airmen in transporting nine armored vehicles to the base defenders.
"Taggart's quick and decisive actions were instrumental in eliminating enemy forces and defending the base," said Maj. Jan J. Burgess, Taggart's Security Forces Commander at the 177th Fighter Wing.
For 13 hours after the attack, Taggart stayed on duty moving food and water to numerous Security Forces posts to sustain operations.
Lt. Gen. Gilmary M. Hostage III, the commander of United States Air Force Central Command would later assess the assault as "the largest attack on an Air Force defended base in 40 years."
The 455th Expeditionary Security Force Squadron was named Air Force Central Command's 2010 Outstanding Large Expeditionary Security Forces Unit.
Taggart received a Meritorious Service Medal for his role as the 455th's First Sergeant.
It did not end there.
Burgess put together a package nominating Taggart for the prestigious 2011 Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen, First Sergeant and Honor Guard of the Year Award - quite an honor considering he was competing against first sergeants from every unit in the United States and its possessions.
On April 22, Lt. Gen. Harry A. Wyatt III, Director of the Air National Guard, announced the awardees - Taggart had been chosen.
"These Air National Guard outstanding Airmen epitomize the concept of 'Citizen Airmen' and are role models for peers and subordinates alike," said Wyatt.
Taggart, who is a detective with the Pleasantville Police Department, will now go on to compete against his active-duty and reserve counterparts for the Air Force First Sergeant of the Year Award.