America's North Shore Journal

Supporting the Ninth Amendment

Pfc. Stephanie McCulley and Staff Sgt. Michael Henderson

Bronze Star with V Device

Pfc. Stephanie McCulley

By Spc. Ben Hutto, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs

FOB HAMMER — Following in your parents’ footsteps takes on new meaning for a 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat team Soldier.

Pfc. Stephanie McCulley, a combat medic with 3rd HBCT, from Uniontown, Pa., followed the steps of her grandfather, who raised her. They both served in the Army. They both served in combat, and they both earned a Bronze Star Medal as a private first class.

“My grandfather raised me,” said McCulley. “He was more of a dad than a grandfather. I lived with him and my grandmother from the age of 2 until I graduated high school.”

Ronald Jobes instilled a strong sense of patriotism in McCulley at a young age.

“He would always put up a flag for my grandmother on her birthday because it was the same day as Flag Day,” said McCulley. “I remember that he fell and broke some ribs twice, but he still did it. It was very important to him.”

The man who McCulley affectionately called “Pap Pap” is much more than a patriotic father figure, however.

During World War II, Jobes fought with the 398th Infantry Division in France. From January 1945 to March 1945, Jobes routinely volunteered for dangerous night patrols to hinder the Nazi defensive preparations in his sector. Jobes went out an average of three nights a week for three months. His service and commitment did not go unnoticed by his superiors. As a private first class, Jobes was awarded the Bronze Star for his exemplary performance in Eastern France.

“I didn’t even know I had been awarded the thing until I re-enlisted for my second tour,” said Jobes. “We didn’t have a formation or anything like that. We just did our duty as best we could. Every patrol was pretty much the same. I don’t recall any one time that I earned it, but they gave it to me.”

Sixty-two years later, Jobes’ granddaughter would earn the same award for her service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

For McCulley, receiving the same award as her grandfather was a special moment.

“I think it is interesting that we both received our awards as privates first class,” said McCulley. “Col. (Wayne) Grigsby told me my grandfather would be proud after he pinned it on me. I couldn’t help but smile after that. “

While on a combat patrol with her platoon, the lead convoy vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device. McCulley reacted instantaneously.

Leaving the safety of her humvee, she ran through the thick smoke with her section sergeant, Staff Sgt. Michael Henderson, from Vidor, Texas, to the disabled.

“I felt the IED before I heard it,” explained McCulley. “They train us to wait and let Soldiers bring the casualties to us, but I knew if anyone was alive in that truck; they were barely alive. I didn’t have time to wait. I didn’t feel much at the time. I just hopped out of our truck and ran to the truck.”

Henderson was not surprised to make it to the vehicle with McCulley by his side.

“She did what she was trained to do and then some,” said Henderson. “I knew she wouldn’t stay in the truck. That’s just the type of Soldier she is.”

Two of the three Soldiers in the vehicle were dead, but the third was alive.

Henderson and McCulley quickly freed him from the wreckage and went to work stabilizing the seriously wounded soldier.

“It’s important to remember that neither of them knew what was on the other side of that cloud,” said Capt. Steven Hemman, their team leader in the 3rd HBCT, from St. Louis. “Both of them could have run into small-arms fire or a secondary IED, but they didn’t think about that. Their only thought was getting to that vehicle and taking care of their battle buddies. I think that says something about them both.”

Hemman, who was there and nominated both Soldiers for the Bronze Star, was impressed with McCulley’s performance.

“I can’t say enough about how she performed,” he said. “I know without a doubt that if she had not performed how she did we would have lost three Soldiers that day.”

Pfc. Stephanie McCulley

DVIDS

Hemman, who was there and nominated both Soldiers for the Bronze Star, was impressed with McCulley’s performance.

“I can’t say enough about how she performed,” he said. “I know without a doubt that if she had not performed how she did we would have lost three Soldiers that day. We were all scared. It is how your body responds to a stressful situation, but she held it together and did her job. She did what she was trained to do. I think it says a lot about her and what kind of Soldier she is. Being brave isn’t about not being scared. It’s about controlling the fear you do have and performing through it. She did exactly that.”Pfc. Stephanie McCulley

The qualities Henderson and Hemman admire about their combat medic were instilled in her at a young age.

“All of my family is military,” explained McCulley. “I was 3 or 4 when my grandfather taught me the pledge of allegiance. We said it every morning. He is very patriotic and loves his country. I loved to hear his war stories growing up. He never mentioned that he had won an award, though.”

But McCulley always knew he was a hero.

Jobes’ military awards were discovered by his family in January. He downplayed them, but his granddaughter is very proud of him.

“He is very humble about it,” she explained. “He didn’t join the Army to win awards. He did it because he loved his country. He was 16 when he volunteered to become an infantryman. He lied about his age to join the Army and do what he thought was right. I think that says a lot about him.”

Jobes is equally as proud of his granddaughter.

“I wasn’t thrilled when she joined the Army,” he admits. “She had a family, and I wanted her to be safe, but I’ve always been proud of her. I knew she would do well. She was always smart.”

McCulley’s superiors believe her work ethic plays just as big a role in her success as her intelligence.

“I think McCulley has always pushed herself to be the best medic she could be,” explained Hemman. “She volunteered to go to the surgeon’s course at Fort Sam Houston a week before we deployed. That’s time she could have spent with her family, but she wanted to be prepared for this deployment. The fact that she volunteered for extra training says a lot about her.”

“Her husband had to pack her bags for her,” said Henderson. “She literally got off one plane and got on to another.”

After the incident, she was offered another position that would have kept her on FOB Hammer.

“She refused,” laughed Henderson. “She said if her team was going outside the gate, so was she. She wasn’t going to leave us.”

Hemman is glad she didn’t. “I think she is the best combat medic in the 3rd HBCT,” said Hemman. “I’m glad she’s with us. She is an important part of our team.”

Photo captions:

  1. Col. Wayne Grigsby, Jr., the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team commander, pins the Bronze Star on Pfc. Stephanie McCulley, a combat medic with the 3rd HBCT, from Uniontown, Pa., during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Hammer on June 1. Photographer: Spc. Ben Hutto, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
  2. Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team command sergeant major, pins the Combat Medic Badge on Pfc. Stephanie McCulley, a combat medic with the 3rd HBCT, from Uniontown, Pa., during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Hammer June 1. Photographer: Spc. Ben Hutto, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
  3. Pfc. Stephanie McCulley, a combat medic with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 25, Uniontown, Pa., checks her medical supply bag before a mission at Forward Operating Base Hammer June 9. Photographer: Spc. Ben Hutto, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs
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Updated: February 28, 2017 — 3:26 am
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