10th SFG(A) Soldier awarded 2008 FSSF Frederick Award


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

BALAD, Iraq (Courtesy of CJSOTF-AP Public Affairs, August 12, 2008) – In 1962, President John F. Kennedy called the Green Beret “a symbol of excellence, a badge of courage, a mark of distinction in the fight for freedom.” More than 46 years later, a Special Forces operator lived up to those words and upheld its traditions during a deployment to Samarra, Iraq.

Sergeant 1st Class Sean H, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was awarded the 2008 First Special Service Force Frederick Award for his professional excellence and courage under fire during a deployment to Samarra, Iraq in 2007.

The Special Forces medical sergeant conducted 215 consecutive days of continuous combat operations as the operations sergeant in an area deemed one of the most hostile in Iraq at the time.

The Frederick Award is presented by the First Special Service Force to a Special Forces operator that exhibits the highest degree of professionalism. The FSSF was a one-of-a-kind joint Canadian and American unit that fought side by side throughout the Italian Campaigns and Southern France during World War II. The award is named after Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick, the first commander of the FSSF.

“Sean H is like the vast majority of Green Berets in that they do not seek the spotlight,” said Sgt. Maj. Gregory Hayes, “Sean just comes to work everyday and tries to do his best. He loves what he does and he takes enormous pride in his medical duties.”

At any given point in time during his deployment, he could be found manning the .50-caliber machine gun in the turret of a tactical vehicle, leading assault elements, establishing casualty collections points, treating patients in the compound clinic, supervising mass casualty events, conducting tribal engagements and training Iraqi counterparts in close quarters battle and combat casualty care.

“I think a lot of things are being at the right place at the right time,” H said. “I think anyone else would have done the same thing in my situations. Not many people get that opportunity.”

Samarra was the place where an eight month deployment set the stage for the awards he has received this past year. In addition to the Frederick Award, H was also awarded the 10th SFG (A) Medic of the Year. His team in Samarra was selected for the Larry Thorne award recipient as the best Operational Detachment in the group.

H, a 17-year veteran of U.S. Special Forces, said he believes that the Soldiers he works with are among the best in the world and strive to be the best.

“I’ve worked with top notch guys my entire career,” he said. “They strive to be the best. Danger is inherent with our jobs. You hope for the best and prepare for the worst.”

His deployment had its share of danger. H and his team were returning from a mission when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device. Exposed to the elements sitting in the gunner’s turret of the lead vehicle on the convoy, the medical sergeant took shrapnel to the face.

Samarra further tested his team’s resilience and his medical expertise during four mass casualty events. During his eight months, he made more than 200 medical contacts with Coalition and Iraqi casualties.

“The area was a terrorist stronghold rife with ethnic conflict,” Hayes said. “Sean and his operational detachment found themselves faced with a huge challenge.”

H and his team answered the call when a vehicle-borne IED targeting Iraqi Police ripped through a police station. He established and coordinated medical treatment for 20 casualties saving six policemen. The second mass casualty event occurred when a rocket slammed into the Iraqi Army emergency response unit compound. H and his team sprang into action again caring for more than 25 casualties, saving eight Iraqi soldiers’ lives.

“The hospital in Samarra was controlled by insurgents so any Iraqi Police casualties wouldn’t get the care they needed,” H said. “We were able to stabilize them so they could be transported to a medical facility.”

The troubles continued in the region when a mortar fell just outside their compound targeting the National Police creating 15 casualties. H and the team stepped up once again and worked with the clinic to save the lives of 10 people.

With the attacks happening around them, H and his team were not immune to attacks during their missions. During an operation, his team came under intense enemy fire and three members of the team were hit during the exchange. Being the only medic on the team, he immediately assessed and called for a medical evacuation. While en route to the medical facility, H treated his wounded teammates, saving their lives.

“I give 100 percent and never accept ‘it’s good enough’” he said. “I was questioning myself about what I could have done better. These guys are my teammates, my brothers.”

During the fire fight, H’s team closed in on and killed numerous terrorists.

During a separate attack on the Askariya Shrine, a symbol of one of the most important Shiite holy cities in Iraq, H and his team stepped into action without orders and were the first to arrive on scene. They secured the site and established a casualty collection point, preventing a follow-on attack at the mosque.

“We saw a need and went out to provide security,” he said. “We ended up pulling several days of over-watch while the Iraqi’s worked on their plans to secure the site.”

Among the trauma experiences and IED blasts, H was also involved with some of the locals during tribal engagements. He was able to build a rapport with a local Shiekh by diagnosing and treating a recurring medical condition. Because of the positive relationship, his team was able to conduct 52 missions resulting in more than 140 criminals and terrorists captured or killed.

“The more you stay involved, the more you learn,” H said. “Everyone (on the team) should know everyone else’s jobs. If a team member goes down, he should not be the only one who can perform that job.”

His teammates describe him as a motivator and a quiet professional who goes above and beyond the call of duty. He pushes his operators to strive to be the best, to live up to the traditions symbolized by the Green Beret.

“An individual’s relentless pursuit of excellence and drive for success invigorates all those around them and Sean most definitely exudes these qualities,” Hayes said.

Sergeant 1st Class Sean H will receive the award at the 61st First Special Service Force reunion in St. Paul, Minn., August 13 – 16.

(I delted the name and did not post the SF Soldiers photo)
Congratulations SFC H. !!

Thank you for your service and your sacrifices to this great nation.