124 Soldiers from 3rd Group to be recognized


SSSO 1&2/Plank Owner
Sep 13, 2006
Red dot in a blue state
Much respect.



MEDIA ADVISORY: 3rd SFG (Airborne) Soldiers to Receive Valor Awards
U.S. Army Special Operation Command Public Affairs Office

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Dec. 4, 2008) – An award ceremony recognizing the valorous actions in Afghanistan and Iraq of 124 Soldiers from 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) based at Fort Bragg, N.C., will take place on Dec. 10 at 9:00 a.m. in the John F. Kennedy Auditorium adjacent to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School building.

43 Soldiers from 3rd SFG (A) will receive the Bronze Star with Valor device, 42 Soldiers will receive the Purple Heart, and 39 Soldiers will receive the Army Commendation Medal with Valor device.

The Valor device denotes those individuals who were awarded a decoration in recognition of a valorous act performed during direct combat with an enemy force. It may also denote an accomplishment of a heroic nature in direct support of operations against an enemy force.

Col. Gus Benton II, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) Commander will present the awards.


FOR THE MEDIA: Media wishing to cover the ceremony must contact Maj. Emanuel L. Ortiz, 3rd SFG (A) Public Affairs Officer at (910) 432-3044 or e-mail emanuel.ortizcruz@ahqb.soc.mil Media should provide after-hours contact information, to include e-mail addresses, so we may keep you advised of any changes to the program schedule.

Members of the media who wish to cover the ceremony must register with the 3rd SFG (A) PAO by Dec. 9 before 1:00 p.m. Please provide the number of news team members, video/still photographers, live trucks and other special equipment you plan to bring to the ceremony. Media planning live coverage during or after the program must provide that information to the 3rd SFG (A) PAO when responding to this invitation. Special needs or interview requests should be submitted at this time as well.

Media should meet representatives of 3rd SFG (A) PAO at 7:45 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 10 at Stryker Golf Course on Bragg Boulevard. The media convoy will depart Stryker no later than 8:00 a.m. 3rd SFG (A) PAO representatives will also escort live trucks in that convoy.
A good friend of mine will be one of the recipients of the Silver Star. He lost one of his legs trying to save a team mate.
I have completed two combat tours with 3rd Group. One of my brothers is there now.

I feel such homage to them, great bunch of guys there. I would wager to bet, that if you interviewed EVERY one of those warriors, they would be the most humble person you have spoken to.

Much respect to them all.
Amazing men. It's humbling to think they work so hard to keep us safe.

Thank you - each and every one of you guys.

19 Silver Stars to be awarded to 3rd SFG


19 soldiers to receive Silver Star medals

Nineteen soldiers from 3rd Special Forces Group will receive the Silver Star medal next week for their actions in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Recipients will be Capts. Kyle M. Walton, Kent G. Solheim and Brandon Griffin; Master Sgts. Fredrick L. Davenport, Paul D. Fiesel and Scott Ford; Sgts. 1st Class Jacob E. Allison, Benjamin J. Konrad and Larry Hawks; Staff Sgts. Robert J. Hammons, Seth E. Howard, Ronald J. Shurer, John W. Walding, Luis Morales, Dillon Behr, David J. Sanders and Matthew O. Williams; Sgt. Gabriel A. Reynolds; and Spc. Michael D. Carter.

The Silver Star is the Army’s third highest award for combat valor.

The 2 p.m. ceremony on Dec. 12 will be in the John F. Kennedy Auditorium adjacent to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School building on Fort Bragg. Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, the commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, will present the awards.
Brutal Afghan fight earns soldiers 10 Silver Stars


FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Capt. Kyle Walton remembers pressing himself into the jagged stones that covered the cliff in northeast Afghanistan.

Machine gun rounds and sniper fire ricocheted off the rocks. Two rounds slammed into his helmet, smashing his head into the ground. Nearby, three of his U.S. Army Special Forces comrades were gravely wounded. One grenade or a well-aimed bullet, Walton thought, could etch April 6, 2008 on his gravestone.

Walton and his team from the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group had been sent to kill or capture terrorists from a rugged valley that had never been penetrated by U.S. forces — or, they had been told, the Soviets before them.

He peered over the side of the cliff to the dry river bed 60 feet below and considered his options. Could he roll the wounded men off and then jump to safety? Would they survive the fall?

By the end of the six-hour battle deep within the Shok Valley, Walton would bear witness to heroics that on Friday would earn his team 10 Silver Stars, the most awarded for a single battle since the start of the war.

Walton, a Special Forces team leader, and his men described the battle in an interview with The Associated Press last week. Most seem unimpressed they've earned the Army's third-highest award for combat valor.

"This is the story about Americans fighting side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts refusing to quit," said Walton, of Carmel, Ind. "What awards come in the aftermath are not important to me."

The mission that sent three Special Forces teams and a company from the 201st Afghan Commando Battalion to the Shok Valley seemed imperiled from the outset.

Six massive CH-47 Chinook helicopters had deposited the men earlier that morning, banking through thick clouds as they entered the valley. The approaching U.S. soldiers watched enemy fighters racing to positions dug into the canyon walls and to sniper holes carved into stone houses perched at the top of the cliff.

Considered a sanctuary of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin terrorist group, the valley is far from any major American base.

It was impossible for the helicopters to land on the jagged rocks at the bottom of the valley. The Special Forces soldiers and commandos, each carrying more than 60 pounds of gear, dropped from 10 feet above the ground, landing among boulders or in a near-frozen stream.

With several Afghan commandos, Staff Sgt. John Walding and Staff Sgt. David Sanders led the way on a narrow path that zig-zagged up the cliff face to a nearby village where the terrorists were hiding.

Walton followed with two other soldiers and a 23-year-old Afghan interpreter who went by the name C.K., an orphan who dreamed of going to the United States.

Walding and Sanders were on the outskirts of the village when Staff Sgt. Luis Morales saw a group of armed men run along a nearby ridge. He fired. The surrounding mountains and buildings erupted in an ambush: The soldiers estimate that more than 200 fighters opened up with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and AK-47s.

C.K. crumbled to the ground.

Walton and Spc. Michael Carter dove into a small cave. Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr couldn't fit so the Rock Island, Ill., native dropped to one knee and started firing. An F-15 made a strafing run to push back the fighters, but it wasn't enough.

Sanders radioed for close air support — an order that Walton had to verify because the enemy was so near that the same bombs could kill the Americans.

The nearest house exploded; the firing didn't stop.

"Hit it again," Sanders said.

For the rest of the battle, F-15 fighters and Apache helicopters attacked.

Behr was hit next — a sniper's round passing through his leg. Morales knelt on Behr's hip to stop the bleeding and kept firing until he, too, was hit in the leg and ankle.

Walton and Carter, a combat cameraman from Smithville, Texas, dragged the two wounded men to the cave. Gunfire had destroyed Carter's camera so Walton put him to work treating Morales who, in turn, kept treating Behr.

Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, a medic from Pullman, Wash., fought his way up the cliff to help.

"Heard some guys got hit up here," he said as he reached the cave, pulling bandages and gear from his aid bag.

Walton told Walding and Sanders to abandon the assault and meet on the cliff. The Americans and Afghan commandos pulled back as the Air Force continued to pound the village.

Walding made it to the cliff when a bullet shattered his leg. He watched his foot and lower leg flop on the ground as Walton dragged him to the cliff edge. With every heartbeat, a stream of blood shot out of Walding's wound. Rolling on his back, the Groesbeck, Texas, native, asked for a tourniquet and cranked down until the bleeding stopped.

The soldiers were trapped against the cliff. Walton was sure his men would be overrun. The narrow path was too exposed. He sent Sanders to find another way down. Sometimes free-climbing the rock face, the Huntsville, Ala., native found a steep path and made his way back up. Could the wounded make it out alive? Walton asked.

"Yes, they'll survive," Sanders said.

Down below, Staff Sgt. Seth E. Howard took his sniper rifle and started climbing with Staff Sgt. Matthew Williams.

At the top, Howard used C.K.'s lifeless body for cover and started to shoot. He fired repeatedly, killing as many as 20 of their attackers, his comrades say. The enemy gunfire slowed. The Air Force bombing continued, providing cover.

Morales was first down the cliff, clutching branches and rocks as he slid. Sanders, Carter and Williams went up to get Behr, then back up to rescue Walding. As Walton climbed down, a 2,000-pound bomb hit a nearby house. Another strike nearly blew Howard off the cliff.

Helicopters swooped in to pick up the 15 wounded American and Afghan soldiers, as well as the rest of the teams. Bullets pinged off the helicopters. One hit a pilot.

All the Americans survived.

Months later, Walding wants back on the team even though he lost a leg. Morales walks with a cane.

The raid, the soldiers say, proved there will be no safe haven in Afghanistan for terrorists. As for the medals, the soldiers see them as emblems of teamwork and brotherhood. Not valor.

"When you go to help your buddy, you're not thinking, 'I am going to get a Silver Star for this,'" Walding said. "If you were there, there would not be a second guess on why."

John Wayne and I went thru every phase of SFQC together. He is one of the most self-less pepole that I know. He is a true warrior, and a fucking stud. Most can only wish to be half the person that he is....

Ten Silver Stars for Afghan battle
10 Special Forces soldiers honored for seven-hour firefight with insurgents
By Ann Scott Tyson

The Washington Post
updated 5:09 a.m. ET, Fri., Dec. 12, 2008

WASHINGTON - After jumping out of helicopters at daybreak onto jagged, ice-covered rocks and into water at an altitude of 10,000 feet, the 12-man Special Forces team scrambled up the steep mountainside toward its target — an insurgent stronghold in northeast Afghanistan.
"Our plan," Capt. Kyle M. Walton recalled in an interview, "was to fight downhill."
But as the soldiers maneuvered toward a cluster of thick-walled mud buildings constructed layer upon layer about 1,000 feet farther up the mountain, insurgents quickly manned fighting positions, readying a barrage of fire for the exposed Green Berets.
A harrowing, nearly seven-hour battle unfolded on that mountainside in Afghanistan's Nuristan province on April 6, as Walton, his team and a few dozen Afghan commandos they had trained took fire from all directions. Outnumbered, the Green Berets fought on even after half of them were wounded — four critically — and managed to subdue an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents, according to interviews with several team members and official citations.
Today, Walton and nine of his teammates from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd Special Forces Group will receive the Silver Star for their heroism in that battle — the highest number of such awards given to the elite troops for a single engagement since the Vietnam War.
That chilly morning, Walton's mind was on his team's mission: to capture or kill several members of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) militant group in their stronghold, a village perched in Nuristan's Shok Valley that was accessible only by pack mule and so remote that Walton said he believed that no U.S. troops, or Soviet ones before them, had ever been there.
Element of surprise
But as the soldiers, each carrying 60 to 80 pounds of gear, scaled the mountain, they could already spot insurgents running to and fro, they said. As the soldiers drew closer, they saw that many of the mud buildings had holes in the foot-thick walls for snipers. The U.S. troops had maintained an element of surprise until their helicopters turned into the valley, but by now the insurgent leaders entrenched above knew they were the targets, and had alerted their fighters to rally.
Staff Sgt. Luis Morales of Fredericksburg was the first to see an armed insurgent and opened fire, killing him. But at that moment, the insurgents began blasting away at the American and Afghan troops with machine guns, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades — shooting down on each of the U.S. positions from virtually all sides.
"All elements were pinned down from extremely heavy fire from the get-go," Walton said. "It was a coordinated attack." The insurgent Afghan fighters knew there was only one route up the valley and "were able to wait until we were in the most vulnerable position to initiate the ambush," said Staff Sgt. Seth E. Howard, the team weapons sergeant.
Almost immediately, exposed U.S. and Afghan troops were hit. An Afghan interpreter was killed, and Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr was shot in the hip.
"We were pretty much in the open, there were no trees to hide behind," said Morales, who with Walton pulled Behr back to their position. Morales cut open Behr's fatigues and applied pressure to his bleeding hip, even though Morales himself had been shot in the right thigh. A minute later, Morales was hit again, in the ankle, leaving him struggling to treat himself and his comrade, he said. Absent any cover, Walton moved the body of the dead Afghan interpreter to shield the wounded.
Rocket launcher
Farther down the hill in the streambed, Master Sgt. Scott Ford, the team sergeant, was firing an M203 grenade launcher at the fighting positions, he recalled. An Afghan commando fired rocket-propelled grenades at the windows from which they were taking fire, while Howard shot rounds from a rocket launcher and recoilless rifle.
Ford, of Athens, Ohio, then moved up the mountain amid withering fire to aid Walton at his command position. The ferocity of the attack surprised him, as rounds ricocheted nearby every time he stuck his head out from behind a rock. "Typically they run out of ammo or start to manage their ammo, but . . . they held a sustained rate of fire for about six hours," he said.
As Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."
Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: "I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on." He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.
Then Walding tried to inject himself with morphine but accidentally used the wrong tip of the syringe and put the needle in this thumb, he later recalled. "My thumb felt great," he said wryly, noting that throughout the incident he never lost consciousness. "My name is John Wayne," he said.
Soon afterward, a round hit Ford in the chest, knocking him back but not penetrating his body armor. A minute later, another bullet went through his left arm and shoulder, hitting the helmet of the medic, Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, who was behind him treating Behr. An insurgent sniper was zeroing in on them.
Bleeding heavily from the arm, Ford put together a plan to begin removing the wounded, knowing they could hold out only for so long without being overrun. By this time, Air Force jets had begun dropping dozens of munitions on enemy positions precariously close to the Green Berets, including 2,000-pound bombs that fell within 350 yards.
"I was completely covered in a cloud of black smoke from the explosion," said Howard, and Behr was wounded in the intestine by a piece of shrapnel.
The evacuation plan, Ford said, was that "every time they dropped another bomb, we would move down another terrace until we basically leapfrogged down the mountain." Ford was able to move to lower ground after one bomb hit, but insurgent fire rained down again, pinning the soldiers left behind.
2,000-pound bomb
"If we went that way, we would have all died," said Howard, who was hiding behind 12-inch-high rocks with bullets bouncing off about every 10 seconds. Insurgents again nearly overran the U.S. position, firing down from 25 yards away — so near that the Americans said they could hear their voices. Another 2,000-pound bomb dropped "danger close," Howard said, allowing the soldiers to get away.
Finally, after hours of fighting, the troops made their way down to the streambed, with those who could still walk carrying the wounded. A medical evacuation helicopter flew in, but the rotors were immediately hit by bullets, so the pilot hovered just long enough to allow the in-flight medic to jump off, then flew away.
A second helicopter came in but had to land in the middle of the icy, fast-moving stream. "It took two to three guys to carry each casualty through the river," Ford said. "It was a mad dash to the medevac." As they sat on the helicopter, it sustained several rounds of fire, and the pilot was grazed by a bullet.
By the time the battle ended, the Green Berets and the commandos had suffered 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents were dead, according to an official Army account of the battle. The Special Forces soldiers had nearly run out of ammunition, with each having one to two magazines left, Ford said.
"We should not have lived," said Walding, reflecting on the battle in a phone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he and the nine others are to receive the Silver Stars today. Nine more Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group will also receive Silver Stars for other battles. About 200 U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have received the Silver Star, the U.S. military's third-highest combat award.
John Wayne and I went thru every phase of SFQC together. He is one of the most self-less pepole that I know. He is a true warrior, and a fucking stud. Most can only wish to be half the person that he is....

Ten Silver Stars for Afghan battle
10 Special Forces soldiers honored for seven-hour firefight with insurgents
By Ann Scott Tyson

WOW!! Great read and congrats to our warrior medal recipients and thank you for your selfless service!! ;):)
3rd SFG(A) honors 19 Soldiers with Silver Stars

http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2008/December/081212-02.html

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Dec. 12, 2008) – In one of the largest awards ceremonies since the Vietnam-era, the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) awarded 19 Silver Star Medals, two Bronze Star Medals for Valor, two Army Commendation Medals for Valor and four Purple Hearts here at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, Dec. 12.

Col. Gus Benton II, the commander of the 3rd SFG(A), said the men of the 3rd SFG(A) have distinguished themselves by taking the fight to the enemy and simply “doing what had to be done.”

“It is my distinct honor and privilege to celebrate the awarding of these medals to our intrepid warriors,” Benton said. “History will record and we will long remember their sacrifices.”

Addressing the standing-room-only crowd, Benton said that earlier this week the group had the honor of awarding 43 Bronze Stars for Valor and 39 Army Commendation Medals for Valor.

Prior to the awarding of the medals, vignettes narrated by members of the group explained the daring feats of the SF Soldiers. Each vignette told the story of the battles that occurred and the actions performed by each man receiving a medal. As each group of Soldiers received their medals, they were treated to a thunderous and ongoing standing ovation from the audience.

“As we have listened to these incredible tales, I am truly at a loss for words to do justice to what we have heard here,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland, commander of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, who presented the awards to the Soldiers. “Where do we get such men? There is no finer fighting man on the face of the earth than the American Soldier. And there is no finer American Soldier than our Green Berets.”

Mulholland said that many people wouldn’t believe the courage displayed by these men.
“If you saw what you heard today in a movie, you would shake your head and say, ‘that didn’t happen,’” Mulholland said. “But it does, every day.”

He explained that the majority of the firefights highlighted in the vignettes took place within ranges that would fit inside the auditorium.

“You can’t imagine the intensity and the stress these men endured for hours and days on end,” he said.

Prior to taking command of USASOC, Mulholland was the commander of Special Operations Command Central, the command which has control over the forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“As the commander responsible for the area, as the reports rolled in, I would shake my head in disbelief,” he said, speaking of the courage and persistence of the SF Soldiers.

“Alone and unafraid, working with their counterparts, they took on a tenacious and dedicated enemy in his homeland, in his own backyard. Imagine the Taliban commander thinking, ‘What the hell do I have to do to defeat these guys?’”

Mulholland said that he was “incredibly humbled” to stand and address the actions of his men, because their actions “speak volumes beyond what I can say.”

“Day-in and day-out, they are the unsung heroes, seeking no recognition,” he continued. “If you asked them, I’m sure they would say the other guy did it.”

Honored during the ceremony with Silver Star Medals were:

The members assigned to ODA 3336 for valorous actions undertaken in Afghanistan onApril 6, 2008:

Capt. Kyle Walton (Carmel, Ind.)
Master Sgt. Scott Ford (Athens, Ohio)
Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr (Rock Island, Ill.)
Staff Sgt. Seth Howard (Kenne, N.H.)
Staff Sgt. Luis Morales (Fredricksburg, Va.)
Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer (Pullman, Wash.)
Staff Sgt. John Walding (Groesbeck, Texas)
Sgt. David Sanders (Huntsville, Ala.)
Sgt. Matthew Williams (Casper, Wyo.)
Spc. Michael Carter (Smithville, Texas)

The members assigned to ODA 3312 and 3214 for valorous actions undertaken in Afghanistan on Nov. 2, 2007:

Master Sgt. Frederick Davenport (San Diego, Calif.)
Staff Sgt. Robert Hammons (Hunstville, Ala.)
Sgt. 1st Class Jacob Allison (Livonia, N.Y.)
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Fiesel (La Porte, Texas)
For actions undertaken in Afghanistan on Nov. 10, 2007:
Sgt. Gabriel Reynolds (Oswego, Ore.)

For actions undertaken in Iraq on July 27, 2007:

Capt. Kent Solheim (Oregon City, Ore.)

For actions undertaken in Afghanistan on Aug. 26-Sept. 13, 2006:

Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Konrad (Winchester, Tenn.)

For actions undertaken in Afghanistan Aug. 7-9, 2005:

Capt. Brandon Griffin (Athens, Ga.)

For actions undertaken in Afghanistan July 25, 2005:

Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hawks (Bowling Green, Ky.)

Schurer, Fiesel, Allison and Reynolds each received additional awards during the ceremony.

The Silver Star Medal is awarded in recognition of a valorous act performed during combat operations while under direct fire from enemy forces. It may also denote an accomplishment of a heroic nature in direct support of operations against an enemy force.


Lt. Gen. Mulholland, US Army Special Operations Command commanding general, pins the Silver Star on Staff Sgt. John Walding during a ceremony on 12 Dec. for his valorous actions in combat. He received the Silver Star with 18 other fellow Soldiers from 3rd Special Forces Group. (US Army Photo by Cherish Washington USASOC PAO)