Civil Affairs Valor Award Ceremony


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

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 29, 2008) – Three members of Civil Affairs Team 745 stood on the stage in the John F. Kennedy auditorium Sept. 25 to be recognized for their performance during a Afghanistan mission last November.

During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. John F. Mulholland, incoming U.S. Army Special Operations Command commanding general, presented Sgt. 1st Class, Drew Kimmey with a Silver Star for gallantry in action, performed with marked distinction. Kimmey is reportedly the first active duty Civil Affairs specialist to receive the award.

Capt. Stephen Ward was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor, for distinguishing himself by meritorious achievement, while in combat as was Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar. Both Soldiers were awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during the battle.

The three Soldiers were being recognized for their efforts in rescuing a Special Forces team leader, who was also the ground forces commander that day.

"These guys deserve these awards, full on," said the SF team leader (whose name is withheld due to regulations) who they helped rescue.

CA Team 745 was stationed at Fire Base Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan with Special Operations Detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, and members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.

On Nov. 2, the teams, and their Afghan counterparts, left the firebase to visit the village of Sarsina in order to conduct medical capabilities mission as well as a humanitarian aid drop.

“We really wanted to give them radios, since they are so isolated,” said Staff Sgt. Alcazar, who was the team engineer at the time.

Once they arrived at the village they discovered it had been evacuated and the Taliban was entrenched into several fighting positions in an attempt to ambush Coalition forces in the area.

Alcazar said only three families came in for medical treatment. The families told the Soldiers the Taliban made the other people leave the village but they had no where to go so they stayed.

“What was alarming was the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned but had been turned into a defendable position,” said Ward.

When asked if this seemed strange to him Alcazar said it did.

“It was time to get into a firefight, you can feel it,” said Alcazar, who had been in a firefight in this village before. “I didn’t know exactly where they were but it was just a matter of time.”

The teams were engaged by 300 Taliban fighters. According to Army documents, after an hour of fighting two vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight after being disabled. This left the ground forces commander to the front of the U.S. lines and in jeopardy of being overrun.

At this point Ward, the team leader for 745, radioed to the ground forces commander, who was pinned down in a vulnerable building that they were on their way.

“We went because we were the closest truck to do anything about it and the others were busy providing cover,” said Ward. However, the team’s vehicle crashed into an enemy fighting position and became immobile, knocking Ward and Alcazar momentarily unconscious.

After they both regained consciousness and situational awareness, Alcazar took to reloading ammunition belts enabling Kimmey, the gunner, to continue to engage enemy forces. Ward exited the vehicle and directed his team to dismount and move to cover. Kimmey remained in the turret, providing cover for the team and allowing them to reach the ground forces commander. He stayed even though he knew the enemy was setting up mortar positions in order to rocket the truck he was firing from.

“The difference was Kimmey was able to keep them from overrunning us with the .50 cal. and in the process he was drawing a majority of the enemy fire,” said Ward, who noted the enemy was approximately 50 to 100 meters away at this point.

“Yeah he was my hero,” said Alcazar about Kimmey.

Team 745 moved to the ground commander’s position and helped in the recovery of the commander and the casualties. All of this was done, according to statements taken after the firefight, while under continual, accurate, effective enemy fire.

Since team 745’s vehicle was immobile it was stripped of all sensitive equipment and its gun was dismantled so as to prevent the enemy from gaining off of the team’s loss. Once team 745 sterilized their truck they had no choice but to run beside the Special Forces vehicle, using it as cover, until they reached safety, because there was no room for them on the truck.

“This sucks, I could see bullets ricocheting off the ground,” said Alcazar, who was unknowingly injured.

He knew his leg hurt but he didn’t remember injuring it and only later found out it was deeply cut. All three of them ran alongside the truck until they reached a checkpoint and mounted up into another vehicle for the ride back to Firebase Cobra.

“The words can’t do justice nor can the medal on your chest convey what they went up against,” said Mulholland.

He also compared them to those who fought in battles of the past, remarking on the historical line of valor that lead to these three men and their actions.

“The land may be different, the uniform may be different, but the common thread is that when the chips were down we had men and women who had the courage to see the day,” said Mulholland.

“I earned it, but did I really deserve to receive this kind of award, did I really do great things?” Alcazar modestly responded to receiving this award. He attributed a lot of the success of the battle that day to the other combatants on the field.

“The three of us were honored at this particular ceremony but there were two Operational Detachment-Alphas from 3rd Special Forces Group that were doing things above and beyond, that day,” said Ward.

After all the Civil Affairs Team went through that day to play their part in the gun fight none of them sustained an injury worse than a deep laceration and they all have something to celebrate.

Less than six months later the Special Forces teams gave that village back to the people..

“Not only were we able to give the village back to the people but we set up an Afghan Police checkpoint; Afghans protecting Afghans,” said the team leader ,who added that they were able to see hundreds of families move back into the village and enabled Afghan forces to operate in the area.


Cpt Stephen Ward team leader, Civil Affairs Team 745, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, receives a Bronze Star with Valor device, from Maj. Gen. John F. Mulholland, incoming US Army Special Operations Command commanding general. (Photo by, Staff Sgt. Marie Schult, PAO NCOIC 3rd SFG (A))


Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, Civil Affairs Team 745, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne), receives a Bronze Star with Valor device, from Maj. Gen. John F. Mulholland, incoming US Army Special Operations Command commanding general. (Photo by, Staff Sgt. Marie Schult, PAO NCOIC 3rd SFG (A))


Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, team sergeant Civil Affairs Team 745, 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, receives a Silver Star from Maj. Gen. John F. Mulholland the incoming US Army Special Operations Command commanding general. (Photo by, Staff Sgt. Marie Schult, PAO NCOIC 3rd SFG (A))