Served: 1½ years
June 22, 2008 to December 15, 2009
Tony was born July 13, 1974 at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas to Anthony Charles and Frances Estelle (Voll) Campbell, Sr. He attended Boone County High School, graduating in June 1992. He also attended the Community College of the United States Air Force from 1996 to 2008.
While he was in high school, his father, United States Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Campbell was serving in Desert Storm in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment out of Fort Hood. His cousin, Senior Airman Contina Bodkin, served as a United States Air Force Air Cargo Specialist at 7th Mobile Aerial Port Squadron in Desert Storm.
Less than a month out of high school, at 17, on July 1, 1992 Tony enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served initially as a Fuels Specialist, then was assigned to Explosive Ordinance Disposal. Staff Sergeant (E-5) Campbell was honorably discharged in 1995. He then joined the Air Force Reserves.
From October 1995 to May 1996, Tony worked as a binder at Hennigan Printing Company. He then went to work as a pipefitter for the Local 392.
Sergeant Campbell was activated in May 2002, sent overseas, and served in Qatar until September 2002 and promoted to Technical Sergeant (E-6).
When he returned home, he returned to the Local 392.
On June 22, 2008, he joined the Cincinnati Police Department in its 102nd Recruit Class, already trained in tactical firearms and explosive ordnance disposal. He was promoted to Police Officer on December 21, 2008, issued Badge 394, and assigned to District One (310 Ezzard Charles Drive). He completed the Field Training Officer phase of training about mid-March 2009 and was released on his own. Four months later, on July 6, 2009, the Air Force Reserves activated him to serve overseas in the War on Terror.
Sergeant Campbell was assigned as an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team leader with the 932nd Civil Engineer Unit in southern Afghanistan during October 2009. During his deployment, Sergeant Campbell assisted in recovering and destroying over 280 pieces of ordnance and bulk explosive charges and actively thwarted enemy bomb makers by disposing of more than 1¼ tons of explosives used in improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
By December 2009, Police Officer Campbell had served his country and community 17½ years.
On December 14, 2009, Sergeant Campbell and his wife, Emily, were ‘talking’ by email when he had to log off to leave for an undisclosed overnight mission. That night and into the morning of December 15, Sergeant Campbell was engaged in ground operations against the enemy in the vicinity of Hyderabad, Central Helmand Province, Afghanistan. He was tasked with supporting a coalition deliberate cordon and search mission in support of Task Force 4. Sergeant Campbell cleared a safe path to the mission objective and provided armed security over-watch for his four-man team.
Sergeant Campbell then began the task of clearing a route for follow-on forces through the gates of the objective entry point. He recognized an improvised explosive device in the team’s path. He moved the team away from the danger area, placing himself between the IED and his team. The device detonated. His actions enabled his team members to safely evacuate the lethal zone, but he was killed in the explosion.
A few hours after their email session, Mrs. Campbell was awakened with a knock at the door and notification of his death. Officer Campbell was also survived by his children, Jordan Campbell (7) and Ryker Campbell (2); parents, Anthony Charles Campbell, Sr. and Frances Estelle (Voll) Gonzales; and stepson, Devin Ruberg (11).
Officer Campbell’s remains were flown from Dover Air Force Base to Wright Patterson Air Force Base on Monday, December 21, 2009. From there, multiple police agencies led by Cincinnati Police Motorcycle Officers escorted him 75 miles to Linneman Funeral Home in Erlanger, Kentucky.
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear ordered the flags in Kentucky to be flown at half-staff.
Visitation was held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at the Baptist Church in Florence. A funeral service, presided over by Cincinnati Police Clergy Reverend Jack Marsh, was held at 1 p.m. They then processed to the Kentucky Veterans Cemetery in Williamstown where he was buried.
For his heroism and intrepidity, Sergeant Campbell was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star Medal with Valor device, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Air Force Combat Action Medal, to go along with his previously awarded Air Force Commendation (x2), Achievement (x2), and Outstanding Unit medals.
Technical Sergeant Campbell was the 856th member of the United States Military to die in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan during the offensive.
Police Officer Campbell was the second local law enforcement officer to have died in military action; the other being Patrolman Earle Biddle, Jr. during World War II.
He is also the second Cincinnati officer issued Badge 394 to be killed; the other being Patrolman William Boers in 1917. It is apropos that Officer Campbell should have been issued the same badge number as Patrolman Boers, widely regarded as the bravest law enforcement officer in our history.
On June 29, 2010, in a ceremony attended by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy, Technical Sergeant Campbell was honored with a building dedicated to him at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia.
On October 17, 2014, Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, petitioned Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffery Blackwell to retire Badge Number 394 in accordance with Cincinnati Municipal Code §306-40. Chief Blackwell agreed and the badge was officially retired at a ceremony at the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum on June 16, 2015. Only 21 badge numbers have been retired out of the more than 1,250 badge numbers issued to the City’s 10,000 or so past and present law enforcement officers.
The 4th Air Force established the Tech. Sgt. Anthony C. Campbell, Jr. Trophy annually awarded to the best mission support group in the 4th Air Force. It is one of four trophies awarded at a Trophy Dinner in November each year.
If you know of information, artifacts, archives, or images regarding this officer or incident please contact the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum at Memorial@Police-Museum.org.
© This narrative was further researched and revised June 1, 2022 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President. All rights reserved to him and the Greater Cincinnati Police Museum.