Sergeant First Class (SFC) Jared C. Monti, Tenth Mountain Division – Medal of Honor
The enemy fighters had established two support-by-fire positions directly above the patrol in a densely wooded ridgeline. SFC Monti immediately returned fire and ordered the patrol to seek cover and return fire. He then reached for his radio headset and calmly initiated calls for indirect fire and close air support (CAS), both danger-close to the patrolâ€™s position. He did this while simultaneously directing the patrolâ€™s fires.
When SFC Monti realized that a member of the patrol, Private First Class (PFC) Brian J. Bradbury, was critically wounded and exposed 10 meters from cover, without regard for his personal safety, he advanced through enemy fire to within three feet of PFC Bradburyâ€™s position. But he was forced back by intense RPG fire. He tried again to secure PFC Bradbury, but he was forced to stay in place again as the enemy intensified its fires.
The remaining patrol members coordinated covering fires for SFC Monti, and he advanced a third time toward the wounded Soldier. But he only took a few steps this time before he was mortally wounded by an RPG. About the same time, the indirect fires and CAS he called for began raining down on the enemyâ€™s position. The firepower broke the enemy attack, killing 22 enemy fighters. SFC Montiâ€™s actions prevented the patrolâ€™s position from being overrun, saved his teamâ€™s lives and inspired his men to fight on against overwhelming odds. SFC Monti epitomizes what it means to be an NCO. Because of his personal sacrifice and selfless service to the Army, the men of his patrol are alive today and continue the fight.
Sgt. 1st Class Jarion Halbisengibbs, Operational Detachment â€“ Alpha 083 – Distinguished Service Cross
With Chaney and Lindsay blown from the building, Halbisengibbs realized he was wounded and alone inside the target building. As enemy fire had destroyed his radio and damaged his night vision device, his vision was impaired and he was unable to contact the remainder of the assault force to request support. Taking immediate and decisive action, Halbisengibbs leapt to his feet and quickly cleared the room.
Making his way out to the courtyard, SSG Halbisengibbs immediately passed a verbal status report to his ODA indicating his status but could continue to fight. During the course of relaying this message, he immediately came under small arms fire at close range from an enemy position not yet cleared by the national police assault force.
As Halbisengibbs reacted to the threat, he was shot in the abdomen; the bullet traveling through his stomach and exiting at his hip. Ignoring this second debilitating gunshot wound, he engaged and killed the enemy within 12 feet of his position.
Halbisengibbs then took cover and rallied the remainder of the Iraqi National Police and assisted in securing the objective area. Only when the enemy was eliminated and the objective was secure, did he reveal the seriousness of his wounds and accept medical attention.
Lance Cpl. Brady Gustafson, 7th Marine Regiment – Navy Cross
The patrol came under heavy fire from machine guns as well as rocket-propelled grenades from hidden insurgent positions.
One of the RPGs hit Gustafsonâ€™s MRAP, piercing its armor, rendering the driver unconscious and partially amputating Gustafsonâ€™s right leg.
Despite his injuries, Gustafson remained vigilant on his M240B machine gun, locating and accurately firing on several insurgent positions, some as close as 20 meters from the vehicle.
He remained in the turret, reloading twice and firing over 600 rounds, while Lance Cpl. Cody Comstock, an Anderson, Ind. native, applied a tourniquet to his leg.
After regaining consciousness, the driver, Cpl. Geoffrey Kamp, an Indianapolis native, put the vehicle in reverse and pushed the disabled vehicle behind them out of the kill zone.
Not until both vehicles were safe from the heavy insurgent fire and all the Marines had evacuated the burning vehicle did he allow himself to be removed from the turret for medical treatment.
Staff Sgt. Zachary J. Rhyner, 21st Special Tactics Squadron – Air Force Cross
Within the first 15 minutes of fire, Sergeant Rhyner was wounded along with three team members.
â€œI was pulling security when I got shot in the leg,â€ he said. â€œThe rounds hit my left thigh and went through my leg and hit another guy in the foot.â€
He immediately felt pain and adrenalin.
â€œThere was nowhere to go. I grabbed the wounded guys, but we were trapped by the enemy,â€ he said. â€œI was calling in air strikes and firing, while moving the wounded down [the cliff].â€
Sergeant Gutierrez could see insurgent fire coming from the buildings on the hilltops above them and was trying to get across the river to meet up with Sergeant Rhyner.
â€œZach and I were in constant radio contact,â€ he said. â€œI could hear the ammunition, sniper fire and rocket-propelled grenades with multiple blasts. We tried to push to the north to collocate with Zachâ€™s team, but every time we pushed up river, it put us in an open line of fire.â€
â€œMy team ran across the freezing river. The water came off the mountains and we were 100 to 200 feet beneath the enemy, like fish in a barrel,â€ said Sergeant Gutierrez.
As the enemy surrounded them, Sergeant Rhyner, who was being treated for his injuries by Capt. Kyle Walton, the special forces team leader, directed multiple rockets and gun runs from AH-64 helicopters against enemy positions.
Atkins and several other U.S. soldiers were on patrol at about 11 a.m. on Friday, when they observed four suspicious Iraqi citizens, according to a U.S. Army incident report. The Iraqis tried to run away, but Atkins caught one of them and took him onto the ground in an effort to restrain him.
The Iraqi man detonated a suicide bomb attached to his vest, killing himself and Atkins, according to the report.
Staff Sgt. Conrad Begaye, 503rd Infantry Regiment – Silver Star
Keeping his composure against overwhelming odds, Begaye directed and encouraged his fellow soldiers under heavy fire. One paratrooper had been shot in both legs and was still taking fire. Begaye called out to him to play dead, knowing the enemy would shift their fire away if they thought the soldier was killed â€” quick thinking that likely helped to save that soldierâ€™s life.
Ignoring his own injuries, Begaye moved a wounded soldier to a nearby cave to protect him from enemy fire. Using a radio, he called his higher headquarters and directed mortar fire onto enemy positions â€“ essentially ending the battle. Then he motivated a soldier to organize a defensive perimeter of Afghan soldiers to prevent their unit from being harassed or overrun.
Specialist Michael Carter, Combat Documentation & Production Specialist 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) – Silver Star
On Dec. 12, 2008 Spc. Michael Carter, Combat Documentation & Production Specialist 55th Signal Company (Combat Camera) was awarded the Silver Star for actions in the Shok Valley of Nuristan Province, Afghanistan April 6, 2008.
Spc. Carter was one of 10 Soldiers awarded Silver Stars for that engagement, but unlike the Soldiers of Operational Detachment A (ODA) 3336 on the raid, Spc. Carter is a Combat Cameraman.
Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Moe, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) – Bronze Star with Valor Device
In order to provide covering fire for the movement of the trapped team, Moe voluntarily stepped directly in to the line of enemy fire and began suppressive fire on the enemy position.
â€œI just wanted to do the right thing and help my fellow Soldiers out,â€ Moe explained. â€œI didnâ€™t think too much about it, I just reacted. I knew things were getting pretty thick and they needed help to get out.â€
Despite rounds of small arms fire impacting inches from his head and being shot in the right leg, Moe continued to place effective fire on the enemy until the sniper team was safely under cover.
His courage and selflessness allowed the sniper team to move to a secured position where the wounded sniper could receive immediate medical treatment and be evacuated out of the area.
Sgt. James Carter, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment – Bronze Star with Valor Device
During this patrol, a massive improvised explosive device detonated inside a culvert, causing a catastrophic effect under a U.S. Navy EOD vehicle. The enormous explosion threw the vehicle high into the air, causing it to land on its side; trapping the three Navy EOD personnel inside.
Carter risked his life by entering the burning vehicle in order to extract the trapped personnel. As a result of the attack, two of the EOD members were killed in action, however Sgt. Carterâ€™s was able to save one member of the team in an act of true bravery.
1st Lt. Colin P. Boynton, training team leader embedded with 1st Infantry Company, 2nd Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan national army – Bronze Star with Valor Device
As his team walked along a ravine near a river, about a mile from post, Boynton and 13 others were separated from the patrol, he said.
Boynton had been involved in firefights with the enemy before but never on a patrol, he said.
â€œWe did all the preplanning, but the enemy knew we couldnâ€™t fire into the village, and they were very patient, attacking us at a weak moment,â€ Boynton said. â€œThey waited where most of the patrol had turned on a bend in the trail. We were stuck in a kill zone.â€
One Afghan soldier was shot through the knee and within minutes three others were hit with enemy fire from the village boundaries about 250 yards in the distance, Boynton said.
â€œWe were able to suppress the fire and get the casualties out and into safety,â€ Boynton said of the Afghan soldiers caught in the kill zone. Boynton coordinated fire support with coalition helicopters and the casualties were evacuated, all survived the firefight, he said.
Table of contents for 2009 Year in Review
- Ten women who inspired us in 2009
- 10 men who inspired us in 2009