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Soldiers Receive French Award For Heroic Actions
by Army Staff Sgt. Donna Davis - March 21, 2012

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KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (3/16/2012) – Six Task Force Poseidon soldiers were awarded the French Cross of the Military Valor with Bronze Star at Forward Operating Base Nijrab, March 13.

U.S. Army medical evacuation soldiers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Poseidon, stand at attention in front of coalition forces on March 13, 2012. Six U.S. soldiers were awarded the French Cross of the Military Valor with Bronze Star for their heroic actions in support of Task Force Lafayette. Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Donna Davis
U.S. Army medical evacuation soldiers with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Poseidon, stand at attention in front of coalition forces on March 13, 2012. Six U.S. soldiers were awarded the French Cross of the Military Valor with Bronze Star for their heroic actions in support of Task Force Lafayette. Photo by U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Donna Davis

“It was humbling, to see Task Force Lafayette put on that large of a ceremony to recognize six individuals, it was amazing,” said TF Poseidon medical evacuation commander Maj. Graham Bundy, a native of Holly Springs, N.C. “The expression of gratitude by TF Lafayette and the recognition by the nation of France with such an esteemed award, it was overwhelming.”

More than 100 soldiers from Task Force Lafayette stood in formation while French army Brig. Gen. Jean-Pierre Palasset, TF Lafayette commander, presented 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade medical evacuation soldiers with the award for their heroic actions and support provided to TF Lafayette.

”These men are courageous; these men are heroes,” said Palasset. “That is why France is going to honor them.”

Last September, Lafayette's Task Force Raptor was on a mission in support of Afghan National Security Forces when they were engaged by more than 40 insurgents. Fifteen personnel were injured in the conflict. Despite the heavy fighting that was taking place on the landing zone, TF Poseidon sent two helicopter crews from its medevac company to evacuate four French casualties, two of which needed urgent care.

Even with the risk the crew faced, they landed at the grid and evacuated the casualties.

“We received a nine line to go pick up two urgent patients. We received information from the attack weapons team, at the nine-line grid, that the landing zone was hot,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher DeOliveira, who hails from Bronx, N.Y., and is a Task Force Poseidon medevac pilot. “We continued on with the mission to get the soldiers out of there.”

If you ask these soldiers about their actions that day, they will tell you they were just doing their job.

“I'm very honored that the French army took their time to recognize us,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Wengeler, a native of Cheney, Wash., and a Black Hawk crew chief with the medevac company. “It's just another day of work. If there is someone hurt I have no hesitation about going out there to get them.”

For some of the soldiers, the real reward is not just being presented with the medal, but helping to take care of casualties and save lives.

“Saving people and getting them to the hospital; that is the best part of the day,” said DeOliveira. “When you get them back in time that is the reward.”

By Army Staff Sgt. Donna Davis
82nd Combat Aviation Brigade
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2012

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