Story by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon
Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon The 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade commander, Col. T.J. Jamison, kneels an places a brigade coin at the boots of Staff Sgt. Robert Cowdrey, a “Dustoff” combat medic who was killed in eastern Afghanistan on Oct. 13. Cowdrey died while rescuing wounded Coalition forces under enemy fire in mountainous terrain. The unit held a memorial ceremony near Jalalabad, Oct. 17.
BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Cowdrey, 39, of Sanford, N.C., died of wounds sustained while performing medical evacuation operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan, Oct. 13. He was a combat medic serving with C Company “Dustoff”, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade (Task Force Poseidon) from Fort Bragg, N.C.
Cowdrey was a seasoned combat veteran, serving two previous tours in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq. He gave his life while attempting to evacuate several coalition forces that had been injured during heavy fighting in mountainous terrain. As he was performing his duties under enemy fire, he suffered a fatal injury.
U.S. Army Maj. Graham Bundy of Sussex, Wis., and Task Force Talon Dustoff commander, said Staff Sgt. Cowdrey was an original member of “Dustoff,” serving the unit with distinction since its creation in 2006.
“He had chances to go other places, but he was dedicated to his unit,” said Bundy. “He was hand-picked to serve in a difficult environment, which says a lot about his expertise and his character.”
That character led Cowdrey to become one of the most trusted members of the Dustoff crew and his reputation was that of someone who could make the right decision in difficult situations.
“Staff Sgt. Cowdrey had a reputation as a leader who took the hard right over the easy wrong,” said Sgt. 1st Class Lottie Weidle, Cowdrey’s platoon sergeant. “That doesn’t make you popular, but that didn’t matter to him. The welfare and success of his soldiers did. His tough leadership earned him respect and some lasting friends.”
Cowdrey joined the Army in June 2003 and completed initial training at Fort Sill, Okla., and Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He served at Fort Polk, LA., before being assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C.
His awards include the Bronze Star, Air Medal with the numeral 3, Army Commendation Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters and “V” device, Army Achievement Medal with 1 OLC, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation with 1 OLC, Good Conduct Medal with 2 Bronze Knots, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Non-commissioned Officer Development Ribbon with the numeral 2, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with the numeral 3, NATO Medal, Combat Medical Badge, Combat Action Badge and the Aviation Badge. Staff Sgt. Cowdrey is survived by his three children, Justin, Charles, and Daniel; his wife, Kimberly, and his mother, Donna Faull.