Below is the story behind the medal awarded to Specialist Jeremy Church, a Transportation Soldier in the US Army Reserve.
FORT McCOY, Wis. (Army News Service, Feb. 28, 2005) -- As the 724th Transportation Company was welcomed home from Iraq Feb. 25, the first Army Reserve Soldier in the Global War on Terrorism received a Silver Star.
Pfc. Jeremy Church of the 724th was pinned during a homecoming ceremony at Fort McCoy, Wis., with the Silver Star, the Army’s third-highest medal for valor.
Church earned the medal when his convoy was attacked April 9 by more than 150 insurgents in an ambush during which Spc. Keith “Matt” Maupin was captured.
Church was the convoy commander’s driver in the lead vehicle. The convoy was taking fuel to Baghdad International Airport when the Madr Militia struck. Church’s actions are attributed with saving the lives of at least five Soldiers and four civilians.
Church drove aggressively through the “kill zone” to dodge explosions, obstacles and small arms fire, according to his citation. When the convoy commander was shot, Church grabbed his first aid pouch, ripped it open, and instructed the platoon leader to apply a bandage. Church fired his M-16 at the enemy as he continued to drive around barriers.
When an improvised explosive devised blew out a tire, Church continued driving for four miles on only three tires, all the while firing his M-16 out the window with his left hand. He finally led the convoy into a security perimeter established by a cavalry company from 2-12 Cav. He then carried his platoon leader out of the vehicle to a casualty collection point for treatment.
Then Church rallied the troopers to launch an immediate recovery mission and escorted them back into the kill zone.
“Pfc. Church identified the assistant commander’s vehicle amidst heavy black smoke and flaming wreckage of burning fuel tankers to find two more wounded Soldiers and four civilian truck drivers,” his citation reads, adding that after a hasty triage and treating a sucking chest wound, he “carried the Soldier over to one of the recovery vehicles while exposing himself to continuous enemy fire from both sides of the road.”
When all the wounded were loaded in the truck, there was no room and Church volunteered to remain behind. He climbed into a disabled Humvee for cover, according to his citation, and continued firing at and killing insurgents until the recovery team returned. He then loaded up several more wounded before sweeping the area for sensitive items and evacuating.
Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly presented Church with the Silver Star. Helmly also spoke with the parents of Maupin, who was captured in the ambush.
Even though Maupin’s Army Reserve unit has returned to its home station of Bartonville, Ill., Army officials said other Soldiers in Iraq will never stop the search for Maupin.
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