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
So, hopefully you watched Jimbo's video from Georgia and read McQ's report about the event for 2/503rd. There is also a lot more over at From Cow Pastures to Kosovo.
In Italy, a similar ceremony was being held for Chosen Company paratroopers...
Vicenza Soldiers honored for bravery in Afghanistan
By By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa Public Affairs
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."