In November 2010, Staff Sergeant Vanessa Salzl Bibb volunteered to deploy to Zabul Province, Afghanistan, as a female engagement team member with a Provincial Reconstruction Team. She was requested by name to be the immunizations noncommissioned officer in charge for Forwarding Operating Base (FOB) Smart and its four detachments for the main FOB medical element.
On August 28, 2011, FOB Smart was attacked by a small group of insurgents who detonated a 400-pound vehicle borne improvised explosive device, followed by multiple grenades, rocket propelled grenades, and small-arms fire. Just moments after the initial attack, Sergeant Bibb reported to the casualty collection point where she began identifying and treating casualties, including 75 active duty International Security Assistance Force team members. Her quick reactions and calm under fire, facilitated the accurate assessment and treatment of 14 criticallywounded personnel. As a result, all lives were saved.
Later during the same deployment, she volunteered to serve at FOB Bullard in the Shay Joy District of Afghanistan. There, she was assigned as the lead medic assisting special forces personnel conducting counterinsurgency and village stabilization missions. While she was on a mission, the area in which Sergeant Bibb was working came under attack from small arms fire and indirect fire from four 107-milimeter rockets. Sergeant Bibb quickly directed local villagers to take cover, while taking up a defensive position and providing security to 20 local elders and coalition forces members. Several days later, her leadership and quick reactions would once again be tested when a fire broke out inside the sleeping quarters housing 127 Romanian Army personnel. She quickly responded, directing other coalition personnel to evacuate 26 casualties, while simultaneously assisting in extinguishing the fire. Because of her fast thinking, no lives were lost and infrastructure was spared.
Sergeant Bibb’s leadership and personal courage in treating Afghan civilians, soldiers, and police, and providing combat casualty care to Joint and coalition force members wounded in action, directly contributed to the success of the International Security Assistance Force. For her distinguished service as a combat medic, Sergeant Bibb was awarded the Army Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Army Combat Medical Badge, and the Army Combat Action Badge.