By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Aaron Rognstad | U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Abigail Keller, an operations noncommissioned-officer-in-charge with 1st Space Company, 1st Space Battalion, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, was awarded the Bronze Star on March 12 for her exceptionally meritorious service in combat zone with exposure to risk to hostile action.
Keller and her fellow space Soldiers endured a three-hour ballistic missile attack at Al Asad airbase in Iraq on Jan. 8, 2020, while deployed in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Inherent Resolve, 2019-2020. Keller, the detachment NCO, organized and moved her Soldiers to safety displaying a cool, calm and collected demeanor during the night’s attack.
“It’s pretty exciting,” Keller said of receiving the medal. “I never expected to get this in my career. It’s an honor, but I didn’t earn this award alone. This award really belongs to all of Detachment 1 (Keller’s unit while deployed in Iraq).”
Army Lt. Gen. Daniel L. Karbler, SMDC commander, pinned the award on Keller, and Army Col. Donald K. Brooks, 1st Space Bde. commander, addressed the attendees.
“This is a truly special day,” Brooks said. “A long-overdue day. This is a well-deserved and earned award.”
It’s rare for Soldiers with space-centric military operational specialties to receive Bronze Stars, much less female ones, Keller said. Due to the nature of the space domain, many Soldiers remain out of harm’s way for the majority of their careers, and due to the lack of women in Army space units, the opportunities for women assigned to SMDC to receive a Bronze Star are extremely slim.
Keller talked about serving as a woman in a male-dominated MOS.
“There’s definitely been long stretches of time where I have been the only female in my space units, which can be a little bit isolating,” Keller said. “But I have been fortunate to have a lot of really good male peers and seniors around me that I didn’t necessarily feel alone. Space has been really good to me in that way.”