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Rakkasan Soldiers presented medals for Valor

 

By Army Pfc. Christopher McKenna
3rd BCT, 101st Abn. Div. (AASLT), PAO

The Logo of the 101st Airborne DivisionFOB SALERNO, Afghanistan (May 13th 2010) – Many Soldiers have received Bronze Stars and Army Commendation Medals, but relatively few know the pride that comes with adding the small metal “V” to the ribbon – a device that denotes the award was presented for acts of valor.

On May 12, 11 more Soldiers learned what it felt like to have their courage publicly recognized when they received awards with “V” Devices at a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Salerno, where U.S. Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, was on hand to present awards.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and Col. Viet Luong, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, stand in front of the brigade headquarters building, May 12, with a group of Soldiers whom received award for valor. There were three Bronze Star Medal’s with “V” Device as well as eight Army Commendation Meal’s with “V” Device awarded. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna)

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and Col. Viet Luong, commander of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, stand in front of the brigade headquarters building, May 12, with a group of Soldiers whom received award for valor. There were three Bronze Star Medal’s with “V” Device as well as eight Army Commendation Meal’s with “V” Device awarded. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna)

Among those awards were three Bronze Star Medals, eight Army Commendation Medals – all with the “V” Device – and two Purple Heart Medals.

The three Soldiers who received the Bronze Stars with “V” Device, the highest of the awards presented that day, are –

Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield, platoon sergeant, Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division

Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield, from Ancorage Alaska, platoon sergeant, Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield

Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield

On March 18, 2010, Burchfield’s mounted element encountered a complex enemy ambush in the Mush Khel Village, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. In complete darkness, Burchfield moved 15 meters on foot while receive a barrage of enemy gunfire to the lead truck where he began to coordinate an effective triage.

Once the wounded Soldier was stabilized and the enemy attack was disrupted, Burchfield moved his platoon back to their outpost.

“It means a lot, but I think there are other Soldiers out there who deserve it a lot more,” Burchfield said about his award. “If any other Soldier was in my position, they would have done the same thing.”

Cpl. Shelton Woolever, from Stephenville Texas, forward observed with Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Cpl. Shelton Woolever, forward observed with Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division

Cpl. Shelton Woolever, from Stephenville Texas, forward observed with Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Cpl. Shelton Woolever

Cpl. Shelton Woolever

On March 18, 2010, Woolever’s mounted element encountered a complex enemy attack in the Mush Khel Village, Paktika Province, Afghanistan. Despite a thick level of smoke and holding a complete disregard for his own injuries, Woolever quickly identified the wounded leg a fellow Soldier had suffered during a rocket propelled grenade blast and immediately applied pressure and a tourniquet to the wound.

Denying self treatment, Woolever dismounted his vehicle and moved 15 meters to his sergeant’s vehicle where he called for indirect fire to suppress the enemy. He quickly moved back to the injured Soldier and continued to provide medical aid until the medical evacuation helicopter arrived.

“I think it’s an honor to be awarded the Bronze Star, but I think that other Soldiers, like … the one who was hurt, deserves it a whole lot more than I do,” Woolever said.

Pfc. Michael Ranger, Company D., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Pfc. Michael Ranger, from Mansfield Texas, Company D., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.

Pfc. Michael Ranger

Pfc. Michael Ranger

On Feb., 25, 2010, Pfc. Ranger’s platoon was engaged by enemy forces as they were responding to an event as the Quick Reaction Force. Ranger’s vehicle moved directly in front of an insurgent safe house, exposing him to continuous enemy fire.

Ranger calmly placed accurate fire on the building, causing the enemy to shift their fire off of another platoon. This transformed what was a potentially catastrophic engagement into a tactical information operation victory for combined forces.

His fire resulted in two enemy insurgents killed in action and two more detained.

“It’s a great honor receiving the Bronze Star, something I thought I’d never see in my service,” Ranger said. “It’s a direct result of my [noncommissioned officer], my officers, and the training they instilled in us.”

Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez presents Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield, with the Bronze Star Medal, with “V” Device, May 12.  Burchfield was one of three people to receive the prestigious award. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna)

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez presents Staff Sgt. Philip Burchfield, with the Bronze Star Medal, with “V” Device, May 12. Burchfield was one of three people to receive the prestigious award. (U.S. Army Photo by Pfc. Christopher McKenna)

The U.S. Army Soldiers who received the Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device are.

  • Lt. Col. Stephen Lutsky, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment commander, from Lebanon, N.J.
  • 1st Lt. Charles Davis, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, from Belleair Bluffs, Fla.
  • Staff Sgt. Jesse Johnston, Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Pocatello Idaho.
  • Sgt. Andrew Nelson, Company C., 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Redmond, Wash.
  • Spc. Robert Brennan, Company C., 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Augusta Maine.
  • Spc. Tyler Garvin, Company C., 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Washington, N.H.
  • Spc. Vincent Kelly, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, from Nashville, Tenn.
  • Spc. Samuel Keefer, Company A., 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, from Gaston, Ore.

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