Thanksgiving
"They didn't want to talk to us."

The Heroes You Should Know

While the MSM has been wrestling with the topic "Why aren't we talking more about heroes?", I thought about titling this post "The Heroes You Don't Know".

This story is from the 3rd Cav Public Affairs Officer.  At the end you'll notice comments from someone who is discussed here every once in awhile - Colonel H.R. McMaster:

Vines Pins Valor Medals on 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Troopers
By Sgt. 1st Class Donald Sparks
3d U.S. CAVALRY PAO

Thanksgiving Day for several troopers of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment included turkey, dressing, sweet potato pie and medals for valor.

Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the Multinational Corps Iraq, paid a visit to Forward Operating Base Sykes to personally commend the troopers for their acts of heroism and to thanks the troopers of the Regiment for their sacrifices in the war against terrorism.

“Some time today on television, a sports announcer will talk about the hero of a football game,” Vines said before a formation of nearly 150 3rd ACR troopers. “Well these Soldiers standing before me are the true heroes of our nation. It’s an honor to spend this Thanksgiving with you and I’m proud of what you’re doing for our country and the people of Iraq.”

Capt. Daniel Anderson, Chief Warrant Officer Milton Walker, Sgt. Jerome Shai, and Sgt. Kevin Doyle were pinned the Air Medal with Valor for their heroic actions on Aug. 29.

Assigned to 1159th Medical Company (Air Ambulance), 36th Medical Evacuation Battalion, the aeromedevac team conducted a mission, under direct enemy fire without concern for their personal safety, for two urgent-surgical pilots from a downed OH-58D Kiowa Warrior aircraft in the city of Tal Afar.

In less than seven minutes from notification, the crew – Smuggler 62, lifted off under night vision goggle conditions. Their aircraft received small arms fire to the rotor blades and inside the pilot and crew compartment.

Shai, from Gambrills, Md., was the first of the crew to identify and report the small arms fire and the location of the firers. Maintaining strict composure, Shai rapidly assessed the aircraft for damage and reported to the pilot commander, Anderson, that the aircraft was capable to continue the mission

Anderson, from Sacramento, Calif., and Walker, from Bel Air, Md., immediately executed emergency procedures to avoid the continuing volley of fire from the ground.

With concern for the pilots on the ground, Smuggler 62 continued to fly toward the downed aircraft. Once on the ground Anderson instructed the crew chief to conduct a physical inspection of the Smuggler 62 aircraft which identified multiple indications of small arms impact and bullet fragments within the aircraft.

After exiting the aircraft, Doyle, from Peabody, Mass., began searching for the location of the casualties. Doyle, armed with his M-4, ran to two Bradley Fighting Vehicles near the landing zone and received negative confirmation on the location of the casualties.

He identified two dismounted Soldiers and ran to their location. Upon his arrival to their location, enemy small arms fire was heard and they assumed protective fighting positions.

Doyle continued the pursuit across open ground, within enemy small arms range, to locate the injured pilots and located the patients in a third Bradley where he organized two litter teams and loaded the patients onto the aircraft.

“The bravery and the courage of these air crew members of the 1159th Air Medevac exemplifies what is good about Army Aviation and the efforts of our troopers here Iraq,” said Maj. John Scott, commander, Longknife Squadron, 3rd ACR. “I’m extremely proud of them.”

There's a lot more in the Extended Section.

Vines also presented Bronze Star Medals for Valor to Staff Sgt. Rigoberto Torres, Spc. Christopher Davis and Pfc. Marcus Waggoner, all of Second Squadron, 3rd ACR.

Torres and Davis, both assigned to Grim Troop, earned their medals for their bravery and courage under heavy enemy fire on July 9 in the restive Sarai neighborhood of Tal Afar, Iraq.

After a medic track was hit by an improvised explosive device, Torres, a Bradley commander from Bell, Calif., maneuvered his vehicle to the IED site to render assistance to three fellow wounded troopers.

Torres came under intense small arms fire immediately after dismounting the vehicle to provide aid to the wounded Soldiers. He was told by one of his Soldiers the disabled vehicle that the fuel cells were leaking and the batteries were sparking.

Despite the hazardous conditions, Torres entered the vehicle to extract the wounded Soldiers. As he loaded the first casualty to his first sergeant’s Bradley, enemy rounds impacted a few inches from him, yet he continued the mission.

He went back to retrieve the second Soldier who was stuck under debris. Again as he took the second casualty to safety, Torres came under heavy enemy fire.

The final casualty posed a challenge for Torres to extract. The trooper was caught under the front deck of the exploded vehicle, but Torres was determined to move the trooper to safety.

He developed a plan with one of his Soldiers to push the disabled vehicle with the nose of their Bradley. His driver lifted the disabled vehicle enough for Torres, who risked serious injury or death, to go underneath and extract the last casualty.

Then Pfc. Davis was leading a dismount team during a raid on a suspected enemy weapons cache when they came under heavy direct fire.

While waiting for a Bradley to breach a wall at the location, the exposed team was decisively engaged with small arms fire from multiple directions. After the Bradley cleared the wall, the dismounts entered into location.

Davis, from Tempe, Ariz., took up the third position on of the two clearing teams and helped his team clear the first room. Moving to secure the room, a hand grenade exploded in the door of the room the team just cleared.

One of the dismounts was mortally wounded and Davis moved his team to provide security for the casualty. Then, without regard for his safety, Davis ran out of the building, exposing himself to fire to retrieve a litter from one of the vehicles outside.

He exposed himself to fire again while returning to the building. Once inside, Davis provided suppressive fire for a medevac team rendering aid.

A second grenade exploded near Davis, yet he continued to secure his position and allowed his comrades to evacuate the wounded Soldier to safety.

Waggoner, assigned to Eagle Troop, distinguished himself on June 14 as part of a dismount patrol in the Hai Al Quadisiyah neighborhood of Tal Afar.

The 19-year-old Sedro, a Wooley, Wash. Native, was conducting the dismount with his squad leader, Staff Sgt. Jason Bednarek, to gather intelligence on insurgent activity when the patrol came under heavy small arms fire.

The squad immediately scattered to seek cover and engage the enemy, but Bednarek had the furthest to find cover. He was struck below the knees in both legs by at least two rounds.

Waggoner was the only Soldier in the squad that saw Bednarek fall and acted without regard for his own safety, left his safe cover to retrieve his wounded squad leader.

He exposed himself to a 10-second burst of fire in the alley and grabbed the handle on the back of Bednarek’s interceptor vest and dragged him out of the danger area. Waggoner then began initial care of Bednarek’s wounds.

Addressing the soldiers under his charge, Col. H.R. McMaster, 3rd ACR commander, scanned from left to right and thanked them for their service.

“You want to know what I’m thankful for on this Thanksgiving,” McMaster began. “I am thankful this day to serve with all of you. I’m thankful for what you’ve done here in Iraq, and I’m thankful for these brave warriors who have represented our Regiment and nation so proudly.”

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