army commendation medal

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Captain Andrew Michael Pedersen-Keel, 28, of Madison, Conn., died Mar. 11, of wounds received from small-arms fire in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.Pedersen-Keel was commissioned as an Infantry Officer after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy in 2006. After graduation he attended the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. Following his training, he was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (Light) at Fort Hood, Texas. In June 2008, Pedersen-Keel deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months with the 3rd BCT where he served as a company executive officer and platoon leader. Upon completion of the deployment, he volunteered for the Special Forces Assessment and Selection Course. After completing the Special Forces Qualification Course and language training, he was assigned to the 1st Bn., 3rd SFG (A) as a detachment commander in August 2012. He deployed with the unit to Afghanistan later that year.

His military education includes U.S. Army Airborne School, U.S. Army Ranger School, Combat Lifesaver Course, Combatives Level I Course, Sniper Employment Leaders Course, Pathfinder Course, Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Course, and the Special Forces Detachment Officer Qualification Course.

Pedersen-Keel’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (2), the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal,the Air Assault Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Ranger Tab, and the Special Forces Tab.

Linda Bray was a Captain in the US Military Police who became the first woman to lead US troops in battle.

Bray commanded a unit of 45 soldiers in the 988th Military Police Company during the US invasion of Panama in 1989. During this time a routine mission went awry when her unit encountered a unit of Panamanian Defense Forces (PDF) stationed at a dog kennel. The 40-odd PDF troops refused to surrender their position, leading to a firefight that lasted 3 hours.

Eventually Bray’s unit took the kennel and forced the PDF into retreat, having killed 3 PDF soldiers and taken 1 prisoner while suffering no casualties of their own. Judging by the money, uniforms and arsenal of weapons discovered within the kennels, it is assumed that it was in fact a Special Ops base for the PDF.

Instead of being praised for her actions, Bray came under serious criticism by her superiors as military police are supposed to be non-combative. “The responses of my superior officers were very degrading, like, `What were you doing there?’” Bray later said. “A lot of people couldn’t believe what I had done, or did not want to believe it." 

Disenchanted by her experiences, Bray requested to be discharged from the army. She received the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, an award for non-combative service, but the Army refused to grant the Combat Infantryman Badge to her and other female soldiers who fought in Panama.

Her actions sparked a controversial proposal in US congress that women should be able to perform all roles within the US army, which was ultimately defeated. When similar legislation was successfully passed more recently in 2013, Bray stated that she was "thrilled”.

SGT. TANNER STONE HIGGINS
Killed in action on April 14, 2012
Operation Enduring Freedom

Sgt. Tanner Stone Higgins, 23, was killed by enemy forces during a heavy firefight while conducting combat operations in Logar Province, Afghanistan. He was leading an assault against an enemy compound when he was mortally wounded by small arms fire.

Tanner was a team leader assigned to Company D, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. He was on his third deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror. He deployed to Iraq once.

Higgins was born Jan. 31, 1989. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 2007. Higgins completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program also at Fort Benning.

Higgins graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company D, 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment in July 2008, where he served as a rifleman, grenadier, automatic rifleman, gun team leader and a Ranger team leader.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, Emergency Medical Technician Basic Course, U.S. Army Sniper School, and was the Warrior Leader Course Distinguished Leadership Awardee.

His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Parachutist Badge, and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

Higgins has also been awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with one Campaign Star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.

He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and Purple Heart.

Higgins is survived by his wife Shelby Lynn Higgins of Savannah, Ga., his father Danny R. Higgins of Hurst, Texas, and his mother Patti D. Sells of Tybee Island, Ga.

As a Ranger, Higgins selflessly lived his life for others and distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier direct action raid force and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and our great Nation.

Sgt. 1st Class Kristoffer B. Domeij, 29, was killed during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan when the assault force triggered an improvised explosive device.

Domeij was a Ranger Joint Terminal Attack Controller assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Co., 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

He was on his 14th combat deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror.

Domeij was born October 5, 1982 in Santa Ana, Calif. After graduating from Rancho Bernardo High School in 2000, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in July, 2001 from San Diego, Calif.

Domeij completed Basic Combat Training and Fire Support Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Okla. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program at Fort Benning.

Following graduation from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, Domeij was assigned to Co. C, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment in 2002 where he served as a Forward Observer. He also served in Headquarters and Headquarters Co. (HHC), as a Reconnaissance Joint Terminal Attack Controller, Co., B as the Fire Support Noncommissioned Officer, and again in HHC as the Battalion Fires Support Noncommissioned Officer.

Domeij was also a Joint Terminal Attack Controller - Evaluator and was one of the first Army qualified JTAC’s, training which is usually reserved for members of the Air Force.

Domeij’s military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, the Warrior Leader’s Course, the Advanced Leader’s Course, the Senior Leader’s Course, U.S. Army Ranger School, Jumpmaster School, Pathfinder School, Joint Firepower Control Course, and Joint Fires Observer Course.
His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Combat Action Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, the Pathfinder Badge and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge.

He has also been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Joint Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal with three loops, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with three campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral three, Army Service Ribbon, and the Overseas Ribbon with numeral four.

He will be posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife, Sarah and daughters Mikajsa and Aaliyah of Lacey, Wash.; his mother Scoti Domeij of Colorado Springs, Colo., and his brother Kyle Domeij of San Diego, California.

Pvt. 1st Class Christopher Alexander Horns, 20, was killed during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan when the assault force triggered an improvised explosive device.

Horns was a Ranger automatic rifleman assigned to Co. C, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. He was on his first deployment to Afghanistan in support of the War on Terror.

Horns was born Nov. 10, 1990 in Sumter, S.C. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in July, 2010 from his hometown of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Horns completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program also at Fort Benning. Following graduation from Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, Horns was assigned to Co. C, where he served as an assistant machine gunner and automatic rifleman.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.

His awards and decorations include the Parachutist Badge and the U.S. Army Expert Rifle Marksmanship Qualification Badge. He has also been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon. Horns will be posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal for Combat Service, the Army Commendation Medal for Peacetime Service, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the Combat Infantry Badge.

He is survived by his parents Larry and Tamara Horns, and his sister Tiffany of Colorado Springs, Colo.

As Rangers, Domeij and Horns selflessly lived their lives for others and distinguished themselves as members of the Army’s premier direct action raid force and fought valiantly as they served their fellow Rangers and our great Nation.

- RANGERS LEAD THE WAY! -

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One of the munitions we had in Vietnam was filled with small sub-munitions about the size of a D-cell flashlight battery. Each munition had 256 of these small sub-munitions. When dropped from a helicopter, each one would cover an area the size of a football field with a thick cloud of [riot control] agent. The munition was so popular with the fighting troops on the ground that we couldn’t get enough of them to fill all requests. 

Being a bright young guy, I invented a munition made from RCA [riot control agent] grenades (grenades weren’t in great demand because you had to be within throwing distance from the enemy to use them, and soldiers don’t like to get THAT close to the enemy if not necessary!). I filled wooden boxes with grenades, each of which had the “pin” pulled and the handle held in place by it’s packing container. I rigged the box so it would fall apart just above the ground when dropped from the right altitude in a helicopter. The grenades would then spill out, fall out of their packing containers, and start burning. Each of these munitions, which I called a BFOG, pronounced “Beefhog” for “Box Full of Grenades,” would also cover a football-sized area. 

I received an Army Commendation Medal for inventing that munition, and we had a hard time making enough of them to keep up with demand.

Captain P.F. Brake, US Army Chemical Corps

EAGLES TO HONOR FORMER CHEERLEADER-TURNED-SOLDIER - During every home game this season, the Philadelphia Eagles have honored a hometown hero. The idea is for the team to honor an Eagles fan who also serves in the military. This Sunday’s home finale will be a little different though because the Eagles won’t be honoring a fan in the military, they’ll be honoring a former Eagles cheerleader who left the squad in 2009 and later joined the military.

Rachel Washburn, 25, is a former Eagles’ cheerleader who is set to be honored this weekend as a Hometown Hero during the Eagles-Bears game for serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan.

According to USA Today, Washburn was a freshman at Drexel University when a friend, who was a cheerleader for the Philadelphia 76ers, convinced her to try out for the Eagles cheerleading squad. 

After she made the cut, Washburn made a trip to Kuwait in 2008 as part of a military goodwill tour with the Eagles cheerleading squad and that’s when she decided that maybe she wanted to make the Army a bigger part of her life, “Getting to actually talk to people who are in the military and doing their jobs day in and day out was very eye-opening,” Washburn said. 

Joining the Army wasn’t Washburn’s first taste of military life. Her father was a Army helicopter pilot and Air Force Fighter pilot.

As an Army intelligence officer with a special ops combat unit in Afghanistan, she carried an assault rifle and pistol. She was a pioneer in a special mission to relate to local women in ways that would be culturally inappropriate for male troops — including helping deliver an Afghan baby in a snowstorm.

During her two tours, Washburn became a very decorated solider. She has received the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Combat Action Badge, Airborne Badge and Air Assault Badge.

With just over one year of service left in the Army, Washburn says she’s thinking about more, “There are some opportunities that are enticing me,” she said. (Photo: Rachel Washburn/Facebook)

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Medevac Crew Receives Valor Awards.

(from left to right) Maj. Graham Bundy, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher DeOliveira, Staff Sgt. Erin Gibson, and Sgt. Robert Wengeler, all with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. 

(Photos and story by Sergeant First Class Eric Pahon, 12 November 2011.)

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — A French platoon-sized element was guarding a small compound, Sept. 7, when an insurgent threw a grenade over the wall. 

“Yesterday was hell,” said Maj. Cyrille, a French medical officer in a Sept. 8 letter.

The explosion killed one, and injured one other. As insurgents continued to attack, another French soldier was shot through the throat.

Since they were almost a mile from the main supply route and the only way to get there was a treacherous journey by foot over rocky terrain, they called in an American helicopter to carry the injured soldiers out.

For their actions that day, four U.S. soldiers received Army Commendation Medals for valor, Nov. 11, for saving the lives of the two critically-wounded French troops in the Tagab Valley, Kapisa province.

The medical evacuation crew arrived overhead within minutes, only to find a battle still raging below. There was little hope the French soldiers would survive without their help.

U.S. Army Maj. Graham Bundy and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher DeOliveira, both with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, made the decision to land.

“The only thing running through your mind at that point is that there are people down there who need our help,” said Bundy, of Holly Springs, N.C. “You have to get to them; you can’t fail.”

Sgt. Robert Wengeler, of Cheney, Wash., provided security while Staff Sgt. Erin Gibson, a flight medic, climbed out of the helicopter and ran to the patients. 

“I didn’t even think about the danger at the time,” said Gibson, of Covington, Ohio. “I just knew there were two hurt guys out there that needed my help and I had to get them on my helicopter.”

Gibson triaged the patients, had them loaded, and had the pilots lifting the wheels of the helicopter off the ground in less than four minutes. 

“We witnessed the incredible courage of the U.S. Army as you made an air evacuation under fire only 200 meters from our position,” said Cyrille. “Because of your actions, our Soldiers are still alive.”

“When I heard what the crew did that night, I was in awe of their bravery and commitment to never leave a fallen comrade, whether it be American or not,” said Col. T.J. Jamison, commander, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade. “These soldiers truly exemplify the warrior ethos.”

Gibson has a much more modest view of what happened. “Really, I’m just doing my job like any soldier.”