Bronze Star Medal Awarded to Cypress College Alumna for Service in Operation Enduring Freedom
Tanya M. Barrientes, of the 172 Infantry Brigade, receives the Bronze Medal on Monday, April 23, 2012. An alumna of Cypress College's Mortuary Science Program, Barrientes is currently serving in Afghanistan, handling Mortuary Affairs as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Cypress College alumna Staff Sergeant Tanya M. Barrientes, of the 172 Infantry Brigade, was presented with the Bronze Star Medal on Monday, April 23, 2012, in a ceremony in Afghanistan, where she currently is stationed.
Barrientes, who completed Cypress College's Mortuary Science Program one month and a day prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, later joined the United States Army, where she is currently directing mortuary affairs as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, her father said this week.
The Bronze Star one of the military's top honors is presented by Presidential executive order. The Bronze Star is the fourth-highest military honor, behind only the Distinguished Service Medal, the Service Cross, and the Medal of Honor. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded only to service members in combat who are receiving imminent danger pay.
Barrientes received her "Exceptionally Meritorious Service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan from 20 July 2011 to 15 June 2012. Her personal courage and commitment in a combat zone, under the most extreme circumstances, greatly contributed to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom. Her performance reflects great credit upon herself, Task Force Blackhawk, Combined Joint Task Force-1 and the United States Central Command."
Two of her faculty in the Cypress College Mortuary Science Program on Tuesday remembered Barrientes, who attended Cypress College under the name Tanya Bustillo, as an outstanding student and a class leader.
Barrientes was on the college's honor roll, the program's honor roll, and was a recipient of the Rosalind R. Ragsdale Award in 2001 for being voted by her classmates as demonstrating leadership, academics and personality. She served as the class' vice president.
Reached by phone on Tuesday, her father, Sam Bustillos, said that his daughter was motivated by what she learned at Cypress College to make sure that fallen service personnel had their remains properly cared for and restored.
Prior to joining the Army in 2005, Barrientes was working for a private company with a contract to provide mortuary services to the military, Bustillos said.
"She decided to go into the Army to make a difference and she did," Bustillos said.
Posted by Marc S. Posner