Combat hardened 7th SFG(A) Soldiers honored with awards for valor

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http://news.soc.mil/releases/News Archive/2008/April/080418-03.html

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Apr. 18, 2008) – Soldiers of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) were honored in an awards ceremony at Tucker Physical Fitness Center, here, April 17 for valorous actions during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commanding general of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presented three Silver Stars, 22 Bronze Stars for Valor and 21 Purple Hearts at a formation viewed by fellow Soldiers, Family Members and friends.

“It is always a great honor and privilege to acknowledge and pay tribute to our Special Forces heroes,” said Wagner. “Each Soldier in front of us, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, have distinguished themselves as true heroes, well known throughout the Special Forces and special operations community.”

In Afghanistan, 1st and 2nd Battalion, 7th SFG (A) Soldiers were integrated into Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan to conduct operations during Operation Enduring Freedom. CJSOTF-A accumulated an extensive list of accomplishments from 2007, including training the new Afghan Commando units, conducting thousands of combat missions, bringing medical aid to countless civilians, and neutralizing more than 3,000 enemy fighters.

The actions of three Soldiers were deemed significant to the effort by their leadership and resulted in Silver Stars for Master Sgt. Robert Sanderlin, Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez, and Sgt. 1st Class Eric Horton.

While in Afghanistan during 2007, Sanderlin and his team were ambushed during a foot patrol. During the initial moments of the attack Sanderlin was knocked unconscious by shrapnel from an rocket propelled grenade. After recovering, he ran under intense fire to retrieve an anti-tank weapon and engaged three enemy machine gun positions with the weapon, all the while drawing heavy volumes of fire to his position. Sanderlin, an intelligence sergeant, also assisted in the medical treatment and evacuation of a wounded comrade, then, still under heavy fire, used a door-mounted machine gun to cover the team's extraction from the ambush zone.

A year prior, also in Afghanistan, Horton and his team also faced a large enemy attack. During a mounted mission in the Helmund Province of southern Afghanistan, Horton was manning an overwatch position with a heavy sniper rifle when he was warned of a large enemy element attack on his team. He immediately began to fire on the attackers, who under the barrage of sniper fire, were forced to turn their attention to Horton's position. Though hundreds of rounds impacted around his position, Horton moved through fire to a better vantage point and continued to eliminate Taliban attackers. A second wave of attackers moved to attempt to overrun the main element's positions, and Horton continued firing, killing 15 enemies with 30 rounds. Horton was hit by a machine gun round in the shoulder which knocked him back 10 feet, but he refused aid and moved to a mounted machine gun to continue firing.

Horton is credited with killing 35 insurgents with accurate sniper fire that night.

During the same deployment, Hernandez’s team along with a group of Afghan National Army troops braved a heavy enemy assault during a cordon and search operation. Attacked from all directions, Hernandez and his team held off constant Taliban attacks under endless machine gun, small arms, and mortar fire during the harrowing multi-day engagement in which two U.S. Soldiers were killed. During the engagement, Hernandez often put himself in danger to draw fire from his comrades, or while moving to assist team members in need. His actions are credited with saving the lives of his teammates by preventing their position from being overrun.

“Robert M. Gates said that the U.S. Army of today is a battle-hardened force whose volunteer Soldiers have performed with courage, resourcefulness, and resilience in the most grueling conditions,” quoted Col. Sean Mulholland, commander of 7th Special Forces Group. “In Special Forces, this is the norm rather than the exception. We expect our Soldiers to live in the worst of conditions and make something out of nothing. This has always been what we do best.”

To the man, the awardees agreed that their actions were not especially heroic, but were simply required for dealing with the situations they faced.

“It’s a great honor, but it’s more of a testament to the team and its resolve under stress,” said Sanderlin. “We faced enemies on almost a daily basis, and the team members pulled each other through the situations we faced.”

“Everybody that got an award today certainly deserved it, but everybody here was just doing their job,” said Horton. “Our Soldiers hold each other and themselves to a very high standard, and it shows in the work that we do.”

List of Awardees:

Silver Star
Master Sgt. Robert Sanderlin (with Purple Heart)
Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez (with Purple Heart)
Sgt. 1st Class Eric Horton

Bronze Star with “V” Device
Staff Sgt. Elisha Bremmer
Staff Sgt. Ian Brown
Sgt. 1st Class Cecil Carter
Staff Sgt. Keith Daboll
Sgt. 1st Class Valentino Dezaldivar
Capt. Patrick Flood
Staff Sgt. Brendan Fogarty
Sgt. 1st Class Heath Grossman (With Purple Heart)
Capt. Patrick Mather
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Maxwell
Capt. Patrick Nelson
Staff Sgt. Carlos Ordonez (With Purple Heart)
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Pfiester
Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Wilkerson
CW2 Christopher Wurst
Sgt. 1st Class Brock Buddles
Staff Sgt. Brian Smearman
Staff Sgt. Luis Morales
Staff Sgt. Ramon Pereyra
Staff Sgt. John Brumit
Staff Sgt. William Marshall

Purple Heart
Staff Sgt. Cody Sheldon
Staff Sgt. Casey Curd
Sgt. David Finn
CW3 Jean Guidry
Staff Sgt. Victor Hollifield
Capt. Kevin Key
Sgt. Michael Montenaro (x2 PH)
Staff Sgt. Mario Pinilla
Sgt. 1st Class Karl Reamer
Sgt. 1st Class Victor Rodgers
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Skala
Staff Sgt. Lamont Williams
Sgt. 1st Class Jarrid Collins
Sgt. Dekovin Dombkowski
Staff Sgt. Scott Guy

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Sgt. 1st Class Robert Sanderlin, a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) intelligence sergeant, is awarded a Silver Star by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. Sanderlin and his fellow Special Forces team members were engaged in heavy fighting in Afghanistan in 2007 in which he earned this medal. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
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Sgt. 1st Class Eric Horton, previously a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) intelligence sergeant, is awarded a Silver Star by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. Horton and his fellow Special Forces team members were engaged in heavy fighting in Afghanistan in 2006 in which he earned this medal. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
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Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez, previously a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) engineer sergeant, is awarded a Silver Star by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. Hernandez and his fellow Special Forces team members were engaged in heavy fighting in Afghanistan in 2006 in which he earned this medal. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
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Sgt. 1st Class Heath Grossman, a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) communications sergeant, is awarded a Bronze Star for Valor by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
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Capt. Patrick Flood, previously a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) team leader, is awarded a Bronze Star for Valor by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
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Staff Sgt. Scott Guy, a 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldier, is awarded a Purple Heart by Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., April 17. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)
 
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