Staff Sergeant Christopher Petersen, of the 103rd Rescue Squadron of the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach, was Congressman Tim Bishop’s guest at the State of the Union address Tuesday in Washington.
Peterson, of Commack, was named 2013’s New York Air National Guardsman of the Year and the National Guardsman of the Year.
According to Bishop’s office, Petersen has served on more than 85 combat missions over the course of two deployments. He is a member of an elite group of pararescuemen, known as the Guardian Angels, who are trained to carry out rescue missions often while under fire.
On December 10, 2012, Petersen was one of six Airmen called in to rescue four coalition soldiers who had been critically wounded in an enemy ambush in Afghanistan. Upon arriving on the scene, he began taking small arms fire from an enemy position. Despite the continued attack, Petersen attended to the wounded soldiers, at one point using his own body to shield one of the soldiers from a rocket propelled grenade that landed mere feet from them. For his actions during the incident, Petersen was one of six members of the 106th Rescue Wing to receive the Bronze Star with Valor and was recognized by the USO as the 2013 National Guardsman of the Year.
“It is truly an honor to be in the company of an individual like Staff Sergeant Christopher Petersen, someone who has the courage to place the lives of his fellow soldiers above his own in order to ensure they can return to their families,” Bishop says. “I am honored that SSgt. Petersen was able to join me in Washington for the State of the Union. I would like to extend my gratitude to him and to all of the members of our Armed Forces, past and present, for the invaluable job they do to defend our country and protect our way of life.”
Peterson says he was humbled to represent service members at the State of the Union. “It is an honor to be in Washington for this event, to be in the presence of many individuals who help make decisions that shape and drive our nation.”