Army Reservist to Receive Silver Star for Heroism in Afghanistan
(October 14, 2008)
|WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2008
Army Sgt. Gregory S. Ruske
(photo left) is quick to call himself an
ordinary soldier, but later this month the Army
Reserve will single him out for extraordinary
heroism in Afghanistan that earned him the
Silver Star medal.
The 28-year-old Colorado Springs, Colo., native
will become the fourth Army reservist to receive
the prestigious award for heroism in the war on
terror. Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz, chief of
the Army Reserve, will present Ruske the Silver
Star during a ceremony in Orlando, Fla.
Ruske visited Washington yesterday to meet
with Stultz and other Army Reserve officials and to attend
the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting taking place
here. He said he doesn't see the actions he took when his
platoon was attacked by a much larger Taliban force as
“I don't consider myself a hero,” he said. “I was just an
ordinary guy put in an extraordinary situation. I reacted
based on my upbringing, training and compassion, and
thankfully, it worked out in the end.”
Ruske was assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 101,
operating in Afghanistan's Kapisa province, when the
incident that led to his Silver Star award took place April
21. He and his fellow soldiers from 3rd Platoon, A Company,
Task Force Gladiator, were on a patrol in a remote area not
accessible by vehicle when Taliban operatives attacked them
with heavy grenade, machine-gun and rifle fire.
“There was no way our gun truck support could get to us, so
we were kind of out here by ourselves when all Hades broke
loose,” he said.
Trapped with his unit in an exposed position, Ruske returned
fire so most of the platoon could move to protective cover.
Ruske then moved to a rooftop and continued laying fire even
after taking a bullet to the hip.
At that point, Ruske realized that two Afghan National
Police officers were still pinned down in the open, taking
fire from their Taliban attackers. One ran for cover, but
the other officer -- one Ruske had worked with at vehicle
checkpoints and chatted with through an interpreter – had
been shot and was trying to crawl to safety through a hail
“Seeing that dirt kick up no more than six inches from his
head, I said, ‘Man, this is jacked up,'” Ruske recalled
thinking. “They are still shooting at this guy. He is still
bleeding and shot. And I said, ‘We have to go get him.'”
Ruske said he didn't take time to think about his own
safety, but simply reacted to the training the Army had used
to prepare him for combat.
Ruske credited his mentor during his three years of active
duty, Sgt. 1st Class Glen Boucher, with instilling the
discipline and skills that he drew on while under fire.
“He was fair, but if you stepped across that line, he would
check you, and that was good,” Ruske said of his former
squad leader, then a Bradley infantry fighting vehicle
commander. “He could joke with you and mess around with you,
but when it came down to work, it was time to work.”
A stickler for soldiering skills, Boucher taught Ruske
tactics he said enabled him to assist the fallen Afghan
“He's the one who taught me all the ins and outs of
dismounted and mounted techniques, and actually it was the
‘Z' pattern he taught me that I had my [squad automatic
weapon] gunner do to suppress [enemy fire] and buy us a
little time when they were shooting at us,” Ruske said.
Ruske ordered his SAW gunner, Spc. Walter Reed, to spray the
enemy in a Z-shaped pattern, expending a whole box of 200
rounds to give Ruske and his buddy, Spc. Eric Seagraves,
time to run out to retrieve the officer.
The two dodged bullets as they grabbed the Afghan police
officer's arms and dragged him toward a wall that provided
Only when Ruske and Seagraves went to lift the man behind
the wall did they realize that his leg had been shattered.
Later that day, after Ruske was taken to Bagram Air Base to
receive treatment for his gunshot wound, he checked on the
Afghan officer and was relieved to see that he had survived
and would keep both legs.
Almost six months later, Ruske said he finds it amazing that
he will receive a Silver Star for his actions. “I still
don't really believe it,” he said. Ruske deflected attention
from himself, emphasizing that he acted as part of a team.
“I had help the whole time. It's not like it was just me,”
he said. “None of it would have been possible without Reed
[and] with the SAW and Seagraves helping me with the guy. It
was the one plan that turned out all right.”
Now back at his civilian job as a juvenile corrections
officer in Denver, Ruske is awaiting his reassignment to a
new Army Reserve unit because his former unit was
deactivated. Once he gets his new assignment, he said, he
hopes to be like the combat veterans within the Army Reserve
who helped him get ready to deploy by sharing what they had
learned about roadside bombs, search techniques and other
“I picked their brains, and they passed their experience and
lessons learned to me,” Ruske said. “Now that I'm back, it's
my turn to pass on my knowledge and experience to some of
the newer guys, just like the other guys did for me.”
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
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