Robert Gutierrez was born in San Diego, California, and grew up in Chula Vista, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on August 13, 2002, and completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in September 2002. A1C Gutierrez next attended Combat Control Team training at Lackland AFB (Combat Control Orientation Course); Keesler AFB, Mississippi (Combat Control Operator Course); Fort Benning, Georgia (U.S. Army Airborne School); Fairchild AFB, Washington (U.S. Air Force Basic Survival School); Pope AFB, North Carolina (Combat Control School); Hurlburt Field, Florida (Special Tactics Advanced Skills Training); Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona (U.S. Army Military Freefall Parachutist School); and Panama City, Florida (U.S. Air Force Combat Divers School) between September 2002 and July 2005. His first assignment was as a Combat Control Team member with the 321st Special Tactics Squadron of the 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England, from July 2005 until he was badly wounded during combat operations in Afghanistan in October 2009. After recovering from his injuries, TSgt Gutierrez became an instructor at the Air Force Special Operations Training Center at Hurlburt Field in March 2011, and served there until he left active duty and joined the Oregon Air National Guard on November 9, 2012. He is currently serving witht he 125th Special Tactics Squadron of the Oregon Air National Guard in Portland, Oregon.
His Air Force Cross Citation reads:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, U.S.C. awards the Air Force Cross to Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an armed enemy of the United States in Herat Province, Afghanistan, on 5 October 2009. On that date, while assigned as a combat controller to an Army special forces detachment, Sergeant Gutierrez and his team conducted a high-risk nighttime raid to capture the number two Taliban leader in the region. During the initial assault, the team was attacked with a barrage of rifle and heavy machine-gun fire from a numerically superior and determined enemy force. Sergeant Gutierrez was shot in the chest, his team leader was shot in the leg, and the ten-man element was pinned down in a building with no escape route. In great pain and confronting the very real possibility that he would die, Sergeant Gutierrez seized the initiative and refused to relinquish his duties as joint terminal attack controller. Under intense fire, he engaged Taliban fighters with his M-4 rifle and brought airpower to bear, controlling three "danger close" A-10 strafing runs with exceptional precision against enemy forces just 30 feet away. After the first A-10 attack, the team medic performed a needle decompression to re-inflate Sergeant Gutierrez's collapsed lung, allowing him to direct the next two strafe runs which decimated the enemy force and allowed the team to escape the kill zone without additional casualties. Throughout the four-hour battle, Sergeant Gutierrez's valorous actions, at great risk to his own life, helped save the lives of his teammates and dealt a crushing blow to the regional Taliban network. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Gutierrez reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.