Shots were fired from insurgents at United States Special Operations Forces and Afghan National Army Commandos in the village of Isa Kahn in Kunduz province, Afghanistan. They radioed for a quick reaction force to assist in the fight.
1st Lt. David A. Provencher, then 4th Platoon Leader, Charlie Company, 1-87 Infantry Regiment and his team answered the call. Upon arrival at the village he dismounted and joined the SOF and ANA service members in the fight. Insurgents detonated an improvised explosive device under one of the U.S. vehicles, and Provencher reacted.
Provencher was awarded the Silver Star Jan. 26 for his valorous actions on June 16, 2010. The Silver Star is the third highest military decoration that can be awarded to a service member from any branch of the United States military for valor in the face of the enemy.
“I’ve never had a better platoon leader in my career,” said Sgt. Daniel Stein, a squad leader with 4th platoon, Charlie Company, 1-87 Infantry, Regiment. “I am working on seven years. He’s a great guy and he knew his stuff, anyone in the whole unit would have done anything for him.”
Stein was with Provencher when the event occurred and assisted him when the IED was set off. He has been recommended for the Bronze Star with Valor device for his actions that day.
“Our mission was pretty simple. We did an ANA partner mission the night before and we were just QRF [Quick Reaction Force] for the ANA Commandos and Special Forces for the next day,” said Provencher, now Executive Officer for Bravo Company. “They came under fire and were running out of ammunition and a couple of their weapon systems were breaking down. We moved up to assist them with ammo and fire-power.”
“It’s during that time they continued to push up with the route clearance patrol platoon, and their vehicle was struck by an IED. I was about 50 meters to the north of their position in an open field when the IED struck. I saw there was someone lying on the ground, so I moved over to where they were,” said Provencher.
Provencher and Stein maneuvered under direct fire from the enemy to the disabled vehicle to discover that two soldiers had been killed and three more were wounded. He provided support for the three wounded soldiers until they found cover and for one of the deceased soldiers until his remains were removed from the vehicle.
The second fallen soldier was trapped under the vehicle, and even though he was told they should come back for the soldier, Provencher led a small two-man team to the destroyed vehicle, recovered the last soldier with the use of a recovery vehicle and brought the fallen soldier back.
“The only instinct I felt was, believe it or not, compassion,” Provencher said. “Historically people who were put in for Silver Stars were taking out bunkers and doing all sorts of heroic stuff. I just don’t class myself among previous valor reward recipients.
“It was never a question in my mind to leave a dead or wounded soldier. What went through my mind is ‘I wouldn’t want to be left out there’ and somebody’s parents are going to ask some difficult questions someday,” he said. “They should be afforded the right to be protected, whether they’re dead or alive.”
Provencher is due to redeploy back to his home station within the next couple of months. When he returns home he wants to attend the captains course and take charge of his own company.
Story by Sgt. Michael Reinsch