7th SFG (A) Special Forces recognized for valor


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

EGLIN AFB, Fla. (USASOC News Service, Dec. 15, 2011) – Green Berets from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group Airborne, were recognized for their valorous actions in combat during Operation Enduring Freedom XVI Dec. 12 at the 7th Special Forces Group Auditorium, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
Brig. Gen. Steven Duff, U.S. Army Special Forces Command, deputy commanding general, presented 10 Green Berets and a Navy explosive ordinance technician with the Bronze Star with Valor while 12 additional members of A Co. were presented the Army Commendation Medal with Valor. Purple Hearts were also presented to nine Green Berets during the ceremony.
“It was nice to be recognized for our contributions and especially to receive the awards in front our families and friends,” said 1st Sgt. Matthew Duffy, Headquarters Support Company first sergeant. “To be able to share this moment with my family really meant a lot to all of us.”
Duffy was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions on Sept. 29, 2010 while serving as the team sergeant for Operational Detachment Alpha -7212. After his senior medic, Sgt. 1st Class Calvin Harrison, and joint terminal attack controller, Senior Airman Mark Forrester were killed while clearing a Taliban strong hold in Shah Mashad, Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan, Duffy marked the landing zone for the medical evacuation of the two casualties along with an Afghan National Army casualty, all while still receiving enemy fire. Duffy also eliminated two high-valued individuals while helping to eliminate more than 20 Taliban fighters. Duffy said the credit doesn’t belong to him alone.
“ODA - 7212 really adapted well to the changing environment we were placed in,” he continued. “By the end of our rotation, we had established a permanent presence in the Yahkdan Bazaar, which had been a Taliban headquarters for years and was virtually off-limits to any U.S. or GIRoA (Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan) forces when we initially arrived in the area.”
Duff pointed to four attributes during his speech as the reasons ODAs like 7212 have found success in their missions.
According to Duff, a Green Beret is a successful planner of minutia; a manager of chaos; the most highly trained warrior and is extremely determined.
The ceremony celebrated the actions of members of A Co., but it also cast a shadow over the grim truth of war. Harrison and Forrester were not the only losses suffered during OEF XVI.
Debbie Venetz was present to receive the Purple Heart awarded posthumously for her husband Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz who died January 28, 2011 in Afghanistan while serving as the senior Special Forces engineer sergeant for ODA - 7216.
“He probably wouldn’t have thought anything of (the Purple Heart),” Debbie said. “This would have been his fourth. He’d gone through many deployments.”
A truth not evaded by Col. Miguel Howe, deputy commander, 7th SFG (A), who acknowledged A Co.’s previous two deployments, OEF XIV and XVI, and their preparation for the upcoming OEF XVIII deployment.
Howe caveated his acknowledgement of A Co.’s rigorous deployment schedule with America’s necessity for battle proven warriors fighting the global war on terrorism.
“Their Strength is truly the strength of America,” Howe said. “Our nation, our families are safer because of (Alpha Company).”
The need for men trained and experienced in war, men who make "split-second decisions", who do the right thing is great, said Howe.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Christy, explosive ordinance technician attached to ODA - 7212 during OEF XVI, was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his actions on August 28, 2011 after moving under hostile fire to the aid of a team member and then evacuating the team member still under enemy fire to a safe area and rendering life saving first aid to the wounded team mate.
"When you are in the situation it is more about the guy to your left and to your right," Christy said. "I felt honored; it is nice to be recognized but when you are there it is really about keeping everyone safe."
Keeping the war fighter safe has evolved because of the changes in approach to fighting the Taliban. Duffy, who has seen the changes in Afghanistan, said OEF XVI was noticeably more intense than previous rotations due to the strengthening of those oppressed.
“The level of activity displayed by the Taliban really showed how threatened the Taliban was by the Village Stability Operations we were conducting,” Duffy said. “I feel they are afraid that by our enabling the locals to defend their own villages, they will lose a lot of their safe havens.”
All the warriors of A Co. did not receive Valor awards, but the fact they are what America needs was highlighted by the awards ceremony squeezed in as they prepare to take the battle to the enemy once again.
Below is a list of all who where honored at the ceremony.
Bronze Star with Valor:
  • Cpt. Byron Wilson
  • Cpt. William Lyles
  • 1st Sgt. Matthew Duffy
  • Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Blackshear
  • Staff Sgt. Brian Anderson
  • Staff Sgt. Jeremy Donaldson
  • Staff Sgt. David Harnish
  • Staff Sgt. Daniel Revilla
  • Staff Sgt. Delfino Roman
  • Staff Sgt. James Stillwell
  • Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua A. Christy
ARCOM with Valor
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Lance Allard
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jerico Loubriel
  • Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christian Anderson
  • Master Sgt. William Berkey
  • Sgt. 1st Class Charles Banks
  • Sgt. 1st Class Clayton Blackshear
  • Staff Sgt. Ryan Baker
  • Staff Sgt. Nicholas Cloutier
  • Staff Sgt. Kenneth Fitzwater
  • Staff Sgt. Ryan Hendrickson
  • Staff Sgt. Jeremy Walden
  • Sgt. David Gross
Purple Heart
  • Master Sgt. Clifford Uhrich
  • Sgt. 1st Class Joe Soto
  • Staff Sgt. Kenny Alicea
  • Staff Sgt. James Gallup
  • Staff Sgt. Joshua Logan
  • Staff Sgt. James Stillwell
  • Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz (Posthumously)