Nellis hero recognized in Portraits in Courage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Loftis
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. Patrick McGillivray humbly shrugs off being called a hero for his heroic actions more than a year ago.

He stated that he was just doing his job, however, those who know him will disagree and those that disagree use words such as mentor, leader, and yes, hero to describe McGillivray as someone they aspire to be.

"He is always striving to be better, to know more so that he can be the best around," said Staff Sgt. Justin Navarrette, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician. "He has a very strong presence. He is really good at keeping morale high. I aspire to be half of what Sergeant McGillivray is."

McGillivray, an EOD technician assigned to the 99th CES, is one of 24 recipients from multiple major commands and career fields portrayed in the "Portraits in Courage" series. To date, the service has recognized 199 Airmen. This is the ninth volume in the series telling the stories of Airmen recognized for outstanding sacrifice, valor and heroism and was created to highlight the selfless sacrifices of America's Airmen.

"It's an honor (to be recognized)," laughed McGillivray. "There were 12 other guys next to me doing the same thing, but for some reason somebody decided to tell my story."

McGillivray was recognized for numerous events during his 2013 deployment, though this is only a small glimpse of his courageous heroism.

On July 13, 2013, the California native was embedded with a special forces unit conducting a routine patrol with his team leader in a crowded bazaar located in the central east region of Afghanistan known as Saydabad district in Wardak Province.

"My other team leader Dallas Bozeman and I were clearing the path for everybody else and the bazaar was really crowded," said McGillivray. "Typically, if there is an attack planned you'll get a good feel of it because a crowded bazaar would be empty because the enemy wouldn't want to engage civilians."

Unbeknownst to them, insurgents were lying in wait for a preemptive strike.

"It was really crowded that day so we didn't think that anything was going to happen," he said "There were a lot of buildings in the way and then there was this area where there was this big clearing, and as soon as we stepped in the clearing, they started shooting at us with machine guns from different positions."

Within a short time, the insurgents engaged from two sides with violent machine gun fire. McGillivray took shelter behind a taxi and began to return fire. Unfortunately, the volume of enemy fire made the taxi unsuccessful as a withstanding cover.

"There ultimately wasn't a lot of cover other than the civilian vehicles, and the one I was behind started to drive away so I was trying to run next to it while shooting back, and then eventually the vehicle took off," said McGillivray.

As enemy fire continued, McGillivray ceased an opening opportunity to take refuge at a nearby all-terrain vehicle, retrieving an M-240B machine gun and ammunition.

"I went running back toward this vehicle, and then that one started getting shot at and I thought this probably isn't a good idea, so I ran back and dived in a hole," said McGillivray. "Eventually, the rest of the team got online and the enemy broke contact and left."

It was a day of an attempted ambush, violent enemy fire and split-second thinking by McGillivray and his team that saved many lives. As a result of his heroic, courageous and selfless actions under enemy fire, McGillivray was nominated for the Bronze Star and the Army Commendation Medal with Valor.