USA — 7th Special Forces Group Soldiers receive Silver Stars for battlefield valor in Afghanistan

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Ser­vice, Aug. 17, 2010) — Thun­der­ous applause filled the John F. Kennedy Audi­to­ri­um here as sev­en Sol­diers, dec­o­rat­ed with the nation’s third high­est hon­or, took the stage at the con­clu­sion of a 7th Spe­cial Forces Group (Air­borne) val­or award cer­e­mo­ny Aug. 16.

7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Silver Star
Sev­en Sol­diers from the 7th Spe­cial Forces Group (Air­borne) were award­ed the Sil­ver Star dur­ing a cer­e­mo­ny at the JFK Audi­to­ri­um, Aug. 16, for their val­or­ous actions while deployed to Afghanistan between 2007 and 2008. From right to left the recip­i­ents are:
Sgt. 1st Class Mario Pinil­la,
Staff Sgt. Daniel Gould,
Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Clouse,
Mas­ter Sgt. Julio Bocane­gra,
Sgt. 1st Class Anto­nio Gon­za­lez,
Chief War­rant Offi­cer Mark Roland,
and Spc. Rene Nunez,
a mem­ber of the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion who accept­ed the posthu­mous award for his broth­er Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez.
Pho­to cred­it Trisha Har­ris, USASOC Pub­lic Affairs Office
Click to enlarge

The Sol­diers were each award­ed the Sil­ver Star for hero­ic acts of val­or dis­played dur­ing the group’s deploy­ment to Afghanistan from 2007–2008. One of the medals was posthu­mous­ly award­ed to Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez, which was pre­sent­ed to his broth­er, Spc. Rene Nunez of the 82nd Air­borne Divi­sion.

“[These men] laid it all on the line and risked absolute­ly every­thing they care about in life for the sake of the mis­sion at hand, and their part­ner and Afghan forces team­mates on their left and right,” said Col. James Kraft, 7th SFG (A) com­man­der. “Ladies and gen­tle­men, that’s true hon­or.”

Lt. Gen. John F. Mul­hol­land, com­mand­ing gen­er­al of the U.S. Army Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Com­mand, was the host of the cer­e­mo­ny. He spoke of the pride and hon­or he felt in lead­ing the men and women of Army Spe­cial Oper­a­tions.

“Every day in Iraq, Afghanistan and in oth­er coun­tries around the world, Amer­i­can Spe­cial Oper­a­tions Sol­diers rou­tine­ly and con­sis­tent­ly exhib­it enor­mous­ly pow­er­ful acts of val­or and courage on the field of bat­tle,” Mul­hol­land said.

As each of the sev­en Sol­diers took the stage to be pre­sent­ed with a medal, vignettes were read about the aston­ish­ing actions they took to stop the ene­my and pro­tect their com­rades.

“When con­front­ed with dan­ger in the fog and fric­tion of close com­bat, with­out hes­i­ta­tion you went to the sound of the guns,” Kraft said. “You took care of busi­ness first rather than tak­ing care of your­self. Each of these Sol­diers has a sto­ry to tell, but quite frankly, they’re too mod­est to tell it.”

Kraft spoke of the uncom­mon val­or the men exhib­it­ed in the heat of bat­tle, though he said words alone could not do them jus­tice.

“Though, mere words can­not ade­quate­ly express and describe one’s will­ing­ness, one’s deci­sion to charge a numer­i­cal­ly supe­ri­or ene­my force,” he said, “or to maneu­ver into the jaws of a sophis­ti­cat­ed ene­my ambush to recov­er his Afghan broth­ers. To con­tin­ue for­ward at all cost when hit by ene­my fire, or to con­tin­ue to engage the ene­my and pro­tect the lives of his team­mates, even when engulfed in flames.”

How­ev­er, if you were to ask one of these Sol­diers if they had done any­thing spe­cial, the typ­i­cal response would be, “I was just doing my job.”

“I did­n’t real­ly think about doing it, I just did it,” said Staff Sgt. Mario A. Pinil­la, a Spe­cial Forces com­mu­ni­ca­tion sergeant with 1st Bat­tal­ion, 7th SFG (A), refer­ring to his actions on Aug. 20, 2008. “If I had to do it again, I def­i­nite­ly would.”

While con­duct­ing a com­bat recon­nais­sance patrol in the Khaz Oruz­gan dis­trict of Afghanistan, his team, ODA 7134, was ambushed by anti-Afghan forces. Dur­ing the ensu­ing fire­fight, Pinil­la sprint­ed 75 meters across open ter­rain into incom­ing ene­my fire to an wound­ed team­mate, Staff Sgt. Daniel Gould, a SF engi­neer sergeant, who was pinned down. When Pinil­la reached his team­mate, he dove in front of him, pro­vid­ing his own body as cov­er for his wound­ed com­rade as he pro­ceed­ed to sup­press the ene­my ambush line.

After 10 min­utes of return­ing fire, Pinil­la suf­fered two gun­shot wounds and was crit­i­cal­ly wound­ed. His team­mates fought to return him to safe­ty, all the while Pinil­la con­tin­ued to return fire with his 9‑mm Beretta hand­gun. Due to the sever­i­ty of his wounds, he was evac­u­at­ed from the bat­tle­field and even­tu­al­ly to Wal­ter Reed Army Med­ical Cen­ter where he began a slow recov­ery process.

“It’s about trust­ing the man to your left and right, and know­ing that he will do the right thing and watch your back,” he said. “That’s what I was doing for him [Gould] and he did the same for me. I would­n’t be here today if not for him.”

Gould said it was the close­ness his team shared that enabled them to risk their lives for each oth­er.

“When you have the cama­raderie that we have, the actions become instan­ta­neous,” Gould said. “The cohe­sion that is built with­in the team is key.”

It is that cama­raderie and famil­iar­i­ty with­in the team that allows its mem­bers to per­form such acts of hero­ism. Whether it was Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Clouse run­ning into the kill zone of an ambush, while he him­self was wound­ed, to pro­vide med­ical aid to a wound­ed team­mate; or Sgt. 1st Class David Nunez remain­ing in a vehi­cle engulfed in flames in order to dis­card explo­sives and ammu­ni­tion, to pre­vent sec­ondary explo­sions and ensure oth­ers were not hurt or killed.

“Where on earth do we get men like these?” Kraft said. “They’re here among us today. How for­tu­nate, proud and hum­bled we are to be in the true com­pa­ny of heroes. We know full well the tremen­dous cost that comes with that kind of devo­tion, and we will nev­er for­get the sac­ri­fice.”

Source:
Unit­ed States Army News Ser­vice
www.army.mil

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →