Valor within our ranks: Task Force 10 Operators garner numerous valorous awards

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http://www.soc.mil/UNS/Releases/2011/June/110616-03.html

STUTTGART, Germany (USASOC News Service, June 16, 2011) – Special Operations Forces (SOF) personnel from the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 321st Special Tactics Squadron, and Special Operations Command Europe gathered at Patch Barracks to pay homage to and witness the presentation of two Silver Star Awards, 11 Bronze Star with Valor, and one Army Commendation Medal with Valor during a valor ceremony conducted on June 13.
Master Sgt. William “Joe” D and Staff Sgt. Adam D, both of 1/10 SFG (A), were formally presented their Silver Star Award by Admiral Eric Olson, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command.
Olson particularly praised the families of the SOF community for their role in supporting their operators.
“This has to be a family affair,” Olson said. “The Soldiers and Airmen are not who they are without the family support behind them, so it’s great for them to be here. I recognize that every time we ask something of the Service Member we are asking just as much of the unit infrastructure – the families. It is their sacrifices that make these missions possible and I thank you all.”
As part of the ceremony a personal video from ISAF Commander Gen. David Petraeus was presented to the audience highlighting the overall courage of the Soldiers and Airmen, but also recognizing the success of Task Force 10 since its continuous rotation of Special Operations Forces to support the ISAF mission.
In praising the men for their valorous actions on the battlefield, Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, SOCEUR commander, said, “They are men who are humble in their daily life yet extraordinary in every aspect of combat. These are men of deeds and not words. As a result you would otherwise not know anything about them and what they did in combat, what they accomplished when it was their time to act under extreme circumstances.”
Addressing the packed audience of nearly 300 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Family Members and Civilians, Repass was reminded of a famous quote from James Michener, the notable author, in The Bridges at Toko-Ri when the hero of the book questioned aloud, ‘where do we get such men?’
In answering Repass said, “I don’t know but our services are certainly turning them out and they’re in our ranks.”

D – Right Place, Right Time
D, an operations sergeant to U.S. Special Operations Task Unit (SOTU)-0112, Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) -10, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while engaged in direct combat against invading insurgent forces at Bagram Airfield (BAF) on the May 19, 2010.
Realizing the base was under attack, D and his five-man team gathered their weapons and body armor and maneuvered while exposed to enemy RPG and tracer fire toward the inner perimeter wall 120 meters distant.
“We gathered our weapons and equipment, it took us a little while to get there,” D said. “The AH-64s were on sight pretty fast and there was some dangerous close 30mm fire going on. I knocked a few of them (Taliban) down.”
Reaching the inner perimeter, D and the team engaged and killed three insurgents who had breached the outer perimeter wall. He then led two other team members to clear through to the outer perimeter wall, evading grenades being thrown by enemy forces on the other side.
Countering with their own grenades, D and his team secured their position and observed that the three insurgents from their first engagement were dressed in the U.S. Army Combat Uniform and equipped with suicide vests, hand grenades, RPGs, and AK-47 assault rifles.
“Once we got a handle of the situation and saw that they were in ACUs, I knew that was going to be a problem – a really bad problem, as they were not quickly identifiable to friendly forces on Bagram,” D said. “So I made the decision to go outside the outer wall because the guard towers didn’t cover all the dead space.”
Coordinating with the BAF guard towers, the team decided to clear the dead space on the other side of the outer perimeter. Though exposed to enemy observation, D led four other team members over the wall. Four additional deceased insurgents were identified immediately on the other side. Another, still living, tried to arm his suicide vest and was quickly neutralized by Dickinson and members of the element.
The team was then informed that 20 insurgents were reportedly massing 800 meters southwest of their position. Realizing the imminent threat, the SOTU -0112 Team Leader organized a voluntary patrol of five SOTU-0112 Soldiers, two Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Soldiers, and six TF Morgan Soldiers.
D fearlessly took point in the front, skirting the BAF perimeter to close with and engage the assaulting enemy. Approximately one kilometer into the patrol, the number eight man stepped on an anti-personnel mine and was severely injured. Without hesitation, D ran 20 meters from the front of the patrol to give first aid and saved the life of the TF Morgan Soldier.
After helping to extract the Soldier over the wall, he then grabbed a mine detector from an engineer on the perimeter, scaled the wall a final time, and cleared a path for the four patrol members still in harm’s way.
When asked for his definition of valor, D in his low-key, unassuming attitude simply said, “Valor is just doing something hard when you have to.”

D – Dangerous Sprinter
D, a weapons sergeant for SOTU-0116, SOTF-10, distinguished himself by valorous actions against the enemy while deployed to Logar Province, Afghanistan. On Aug. 17, 2010, SOTU-0116 was enabling 20 Afghan Nation Security Forces (ANSF) members to perform route reconnaissance along Route New York.
While moving south to north, the unit discovered a pressure-plate Improvised Explosive Device (IED) ahead of the convoy. While clearing the IED, the patrol found itself in a complex ambush, engaged by 10-12 insurgents occupying two fighting positions 300 meters to the east. The enemy opened fire with 82mm mortars, RPGs, PKM light machine guns and AK-47 assault rifles against the team.
“Me and two other teammates were on a flanking element pulling outside security when my gun went down,” said D, who was out in the open during the attack when his weapon malfunctioned.
D realized the SOTU’s 60mm mortar was essential to continue the fight and repel the enemy, so with disregard for his own life, he ran over 150 meters south through flat, open terrain paralleling enemy fighting positions to reach the SOTU’s RG-33 vehicle and mortar system.
Despite the RPG rounds detonating within 30 meters of his location, D emplaced the mortar tube and delivered 10 accurate, high-explosive rounds on the insurgent positions. As a direct result, the SOTU-0116 leadership was able to reorganize and direct maneuver elements into position and request emergency Close Air Support.
Informed that the AH-64 Air Weapons Team overhead was unable to effectively target the enemy positions, the team assessed the only way to eliminate the insurgents was by direct assault. D hastily prepared and led a maneuver element consisting of seven ANSF and three SOTU-0116 members to engage and assault the enemy forces.
“We just started assaulting through the objective,” said D who fearlessly took point of his element and led a bold assault across 300 meters of open terrain. “The enemy actually reinitiated two or three times with machine gun fire. But once we started taking the fight to them they began to quit. We won the day that day.”
Reflecting on his actions which led to his recognition, D said, “Running through 300 meters of open ground and enemy machine gun fire is not something that a lot of guys jump at the opportunity to do. When you have 100 percent confidence in the guys you have to give you the fire and cover you need – that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
“We’re supposed to be a well oiled machine and on that day we proved it.”
Other valor award recipients were:
  • Capt. Craig B., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Sgt. 1st Class Michael M., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Sgt. 1st Class McKenna M., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Sgt. 1st Class Rod R., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Staff Sgt. Sabriel A., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Staff Sgt. Robert "Al" M., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Staff Sgt. Patrick R., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Staff Sgt. Richard T., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • SSgt. David I. (USAF), Bronze Star w/Valor
  • SSgt Theodore H. (USAF), Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Pfc. William L., Bronze Star w/Valor
  • Staff Sgt. Ricky S., Army Commendation Medal w/Valor
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