Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, congratulates Staff Sgt. Matthew Blaskowski, one of several Soldiers who received awards during the recent ceremony at Kandahar Airfield. SSG Blaskowski received the Silver Star.
Two Silver Stars
The Silver Star, awarded for gallantry in action, was presented to two Rangers for actions while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Capt. Christopher A. Molino was awarded the Silver Star while serving as the ground commander when his Soldiers were attacked. Molino was conducting combat operations when his element came under direct small arms and hand grenade fire from a determined enemy. According to the award citation, Malino’a personal courage, tactical expertise and professional competence contributed to saving the lives of wounded Rangers and the success of the task force.
Staff Sgt. David M. Edwards was awarded the Silver Star while serving as a squad leader for the task force. Edwards’ unit was conducting combat operations when his element came under an intense enemy attack. According to the citation, while under direct fire, his outstanding leadership, dedication to duty and commitment to excellence were fundamental in saving the life of a wounded Ranger and success of the task force.
“These men represent extraordinary heroism. They fought for each other, their families and to get the mission done,” said Lt. Col. John G. Castles, commander, 3rd Bn., 75th Ranger Regt. “Their actions are representative of others on this field today.
“Rangers often downplay individual actions, because nothing can be done without the entire force.”
He explained that the awardees’ actions were significant and that “fellow Rangers are standing here today because of the valorous actions of these Rangers.”
The Soldier’s Medal was presented to Sgt. Mark T. Alperin while serving as a mortar platoon squad leader in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. This medal is awarded for personnel who distinguish themselves by heroism involving personal danger and the voluntary risk of life, though no contact with the enemy was made. This award requires the same level of heroism as the Distinguished Flying Cross.
According to the award citation, Alperin displayed the highest degree of professionalism, sound judgment, technical and tactical knowledge and an overwhelming concern for the welfare of his Rangers. His exceptional performance and dedication to duty were contributing factors in saving a Ranger and success of the task force.
11 Bronze Stars
Bronze Star Medals for Valor were awarded to 11 Rangers for actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This medal is awarded for heroic actions. Awardees were: Sgt. 1st Class Andrew T. Bristow, Sgt. Jeremiah A. Dagel, Cpt. John F. Detro, Sgt. Ian B. Hunter, 1st Lt. Ryan M. Kelly, Spc. Casey M. Loose, Staff Sgt. Joseph G. Lynch, 1st Sgt. Edward L. Noland, Staff Sgt. Michael N. Rach, Spc. Webster J. Slavens, and Staff Sgt. Jared N. Van Aalst.
Loose, a Ranger medic, said that he received this award with great esteem and honor.
“It is my privilege to have served with the caliber of men such as those in my unit,” he said. “I believe, however, that any one of my fellow Rangers would do, and have done, the very things that I received this award for.
“It is the Rangers’ constant endeavor to live the Ranger Creed and exceed the standards,” he explained. “That makes us who and what we are, especially on the battlefield.”
Detro, the battalion physician’s assistant and acting battalion surgeon, echoed the sentiments of teamwork and skill during the mission for which he and five of his medics, including Loose, received valorous awards. He said that his men used their battlefield knowledge to prepare for the mission and then competently applied their training in accordance with the plan, allowing them to effectively assist wounded Soldiers.
Ranger medics support missions on the front lines with their fellow Rangers, working together to accomplish the mission and bring everyone back.
“We would not have made it off of this objective and saved the injured men without the entire force fighting together,” Loose said.
16 ARCOMs with Valor
Sixteen Rangers received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, awarded for a valorous act distinguished by heroism, meritorious achievement or meritorious service.