U.S. Army Maj. Gen.
William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa, speaks with Spc.
Jeffrey Scantlin after presenting him with the Silver Star during a
March 20, 2009, ceremony in Vicenza, Italy. Also pictured from left:
Sgt. 1st Class Erich Phillips and Sgt. John Hayes, who also earned
their Silver Stars. First Lt. Aaron Thurman, right, recieved the Bronze
Star Medal for valor. U.S. Army photo by Barbara Romano
VICENZA, Italy - In the early morning hours of July 13, 2008, Soldiers
from Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment were not
thinking about medals as they fought off roughly 200 insurgents
attacking their vehicle patrol base in Afghanistan.
No Soldier in combat does.
The Army, however, takes pause afterward to honor those who distinguish
themselves in battle and recognizes them before their peers.
Six Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company received medals of valor
for combat actions that morning in Wanat, a village in northeast
Afghanistan. Nine of their comrades lost their lives during the fight.
Maj. Gen. William B. Garrett III, commander of U.S. Army Africa,
presented medals to the Soldiers during a March 20 ceremony held at
Receiving the Silver Star was bittersweet, said Spc. Jeffrey Scantlin, 24, of Anchorage, Alaska.
"It's a big deal. But brings back a lot of memories of people who
should be here, but aren't," Scantlin said. "For me the medal is more
of a group achievement, something I wear to remind me of those who
didn't come back."
The Silver Star Medal was also presented to Sgt. 1st Class Erich
Phillips and Sgt. John Hayes. Bronze Star Medals with "V" device for
valor were awarded to 1st Lt. Aaron Thurman, Sgt. Hector Chavez and
Spc. Tyler Hanson.
As the ceremony began, the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team stood
silent to remember those who died. Then, Garrett spoke about the
bravery Soldiers displayed during the battle.
"Their courage under fire, valor, and loyalty to each other was absolutely astounding," Garrett said.
The platoon was near the end of a long deployment to Afghanistan,
enduring many firefights along the way. Yet, when faced with enemy fire
near Wanat, outnumbered and in some cases wounded, these paratroopers
fought desperately for each other, overcoming fear and willingly
risking their lives to save others.
"Incredible acts of courage and valor were commonplace on the
battlefield that day," Garrett said. "Today, we recognize these six
Soldiers for their courage - and we are thankful for the opportunity to
serve with such men."
Garrett stepped forward and orders were read detailing each of their
actions. The six paratroopers paused for photos, the bright ribbons and
shining stars standing out against their gray digital fatigues.
In that quiet moment, each Soldier felt mixed emotions. Rows of
paratroopers in maroon berets stood before them -many who have their
own combat experiences from Afghanistan.
Scantlin, like most of those awarded, knew they had been put in for a
medal. Some knew that same day. But it meant little to them at the
time, still reeling from the combat they had endured.
"We just lost nine guys - everyone was still in shock, it was surreal.
It still is," Scantlin said. "The guys that died there were my friends."
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.