Sunday, March 25, 2012

Twelve Rangers Awarded the Silver Star

Twelve Rangers from 1st Battalion, 75th Rangers each received a Silver Star (two of them posthumously), the third-highest decoration for the US Armed Forces, for action during their recent deployment to Afghanistan.  Here is a brief explanation of each:
Often mistaken for the wrath of God

SFC Michael A Eiermann: under intense fire during an enemy assault on Bagram Airfield, Eiermann and his medic retrieved two wounded soldiers inside a minefield, necessitating several trips back and forth before they were done.

SGT Todd D Mark & SGT Dylan J Maynard: outnumbered at least three to one, they both engaged and killed enemy fighters while assisting others in rescuing two wounded soldiers.

SFC Michael A Duschene: with his platoon assaulted an enemy compound, and he was immediately wounded in his right forearm.  Assisted by his medic but refusing pain killers, he continued directing his men during the engagement, at one point giving his rifle to a squad leader whose rifle was inoperative.  He continued to engage the enemy with his platoon for another ninety minutes, killing one enemy with his pistol.

SSG Ethan P Killeen: part of a team clearing a succession of enemy compounds, he received multiple gunshot wounds and finally killed one of his attackers after trading a series of gunshots with him in close proximity.  He continued to engage the several remaining enemy fighters who were manning a machine gun position that was attempting to ambush part of the Killeen’s squad sweeping through another compound, while he was hampered by being attacked by one of his unit's attack dogs insufficiently trained in IFF.  He refused to be evacuated until the engagement was successfully concluded.

CPT Jonathan F Logan: his unit ambushed in a dry riverbed, surrounded on three sides while attacking an enemy encampment, Captain Logan climbed about 130 meters up an escarpment, under fire, to destroy an enemy fighting position.  He then climbed another 120 meters further up to mark a cave filled with enemy fighters firing on his troops.  He had to do this twice before support attack helicopters were able to locate and destroy the second position.  With his unit still pinned done by the intense fire, he then directed his Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) to guide a succession of danger-close fire missions.  He was then able to withdraw his unit, while still engaged.

SGT Jonathan K Peney (posthumous): a platoon medic, unhesitatingly rushed onto a rooftop where a Ranger team was pinned down by intense fire, to assist one of the wounded.  He was struck in the right flank and died from his wounds shortly thereafter.  His example inspired the attacking platoon to overwhelm the enemy and continue to repulse attacks for the rest of the day.

SSG Trevor D Tow: led his squad through a sweep of several compounds.  As his squad was ascending an exterior staircase, an enemy fighter on the roof dropped hand grenades and took the squad under fire, mortally wounding one of his men.  Staff Sergeant Tow moved into the open, exposing himself, and attracted the attention of the fighter away from the squad to himself.  He exchanged fire with the combatant who was only about ten feet away, and a second enemy joined the engagement, firing automatic rifle rounds at the fully exposed Tow, until a second Ranger came to assist him.  They were able to kill both of the enemy, and shortly thereafter Tow killed a third who appeared and threw three grenades at his squad, some landing as close as ten feet away from Tow.

SGT Martin A Lugo (posthumous): led his squad to a tree line where they were to pin down an enemy force with suppressive fire while another Ranger team assaulted them from another direction.  The enemy was much larger and effective than expected though, and the assault force was pinned down.  Lugo instead moved his team into an assault instead, and Lugo personally engaged two of the enemy at close quarters, killing them both but not before he was mortally wounded.

SSG John M Rowland: preparing to assault an enemy compound, his squad was spotted by an enemy observer on a roof.  Rowland climbed onto the roof where he exchanged shots with the insurgent, killing him.  His action caused an enemy machine gun team, poised to ambush his squad, to turn and fire on him instead.  Joined by another Ranger, they continued to fight the enemy while in the open, killing two and seriously wounding the third.  This enabled his squad to successfully secure the compound, and based on the enemy’s plan, likely saved the lives of many women and children in the compound as well.

SFC Keith A Morges & SGT Alan D Solomon: as Rangers moved to contact in order to secure a possible high-value target in a village, they came under fire from numerous enemy fighters in the village.  They fought their way in but were immediately taken under heavy fire from the west and southwest.  Morges moved to assist his blocking force, exposing himself many times as he moved about encouraging and directing his men, engaging and suppressing the enemy.  Solomon, the platoon medic, exposed himself to run back to the compound and retrieve an ammunition resupply.  He then ran forward to attend to seven Rangers wounded by an RPG.  Both Morges and Solomon, with each movement, were exposed to heavy enemy fire in an engagement that likely lasted well over an hour.  Morges was able to direct his unit to break contact under fire, with the Rangers moving the wounded to another position where they established a hasty helo landing zone.  Morges was the last to withdraw in order to provide suppressive fire for his men.  As the helos were inbound to pick up the wounded, they received fire from the enemy.  While Solomon shielded those in his care with his body while he tended to them, Morges exposed himself in order to return fire until his men were aboard the helos.  He was assisted by Solomon after the litters were loaded.  They were the last aboard the extract.

“Rangers lead the way.”  Indeed.  As James Michener would say of this small sample, “Where do we get such men?”

Update:  An addendum from the 2nd Battalion.

1 comment:

  1. You've served with and known a number of these men throughout your life. I know you well enough to know this to be true. These men truly love the freedom available in this, the greatest nation of all time. They act out of true commitment to serve others, not by adding drama to an otherwise useless demonstration.


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