Soldiers Honor Fallen Hero Combat Medic
(July 13, 2011)
|LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (7/11/2011) – U.S. Army Spc. Nicholas P. Bernier's leaders and comrades gathered to honor him as a positive-thinker and a true warrior, hero and friend, on Forward Operating Base Altimur, July 4.|
Bernier was a 21-year-old combat medic from East Kingston, N.H., assigned to Company D, 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team,10th Mountain Division. In the presence of his family, Bernier died June 28 in Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds suffered during an enemy engagement at Combat Outpost Kherwar in Logar province, Afghanistan, June 22.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Ramsey, battalion commander of 2nd Bn., 30th Inf.'s Task force Storm, said Bernier died augmenting force protection and providing medical attention to other wounded soldiers.
“Nick is an American hero, and we will remember him that way,” said Ramsey, a Greenville, N.C., native. “Nick was an outstanding Soldier, a great teammate and a loving son. He will be missed by all those who served with and cared for him.”
Ramsey said Bernier was an extremely competent and natural-born leader who was mature beyond his years and fulfilled his responsibilities in a quiet and professional manner. Bernier always succeeded at every task laid before him, he said.
“Nick was the epitome of a combat medic. He was handpicked by his leadership to perform these duties in Kherwar,” said Ramsey. “The forces needed someone who was competent, a self-starter, able to operate with minimal guidance, could take on other roles and responsibilities as directed and able to operate in chaotic situations without it affecting his performance.”
A U.S. Army carry team transfers the remains of U.S. Army Spc. Nicholas P. Bernier of East Kingston, N.H., at Dover Air Force Base, Del., July 3, 2011. Bernier was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Polk, La. Photo by U.S. Air Force Roland Balik
|Ramsey said Bernier was the obvious choice for the job. Bernier always went above and beyond the call of duty, rarely needed to be told what to do and was not only dedicated to his job but also was committed to excellence, he said.|
“Our unit motto is ‘Our Country, Not Ourselves.' I think that is probably the best motto in the Army,” said Ramsey. “Nicholas Bernier epitomized our unit motto, and this was is not something that he learned in the Army; it was from the soldiers he served with ... good upbringing and his desire to make a difference.”
U.S. Army Capt. Bixler Benson, commander of TF Storm's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, said Bernier did not question or complain when he received the news about going to Kherwar to support and provide security for forces there. He said Bernier was a soldier who not only understood but also embraced the “Warrior Ethos.”
“Spc. Nicholas P. Bernier has earned the honor, and our pride, as a warrior, said Benson, a Fort Wayne, Ind., native. “His name is added to the ranks of our heroes who have made the ultimate sacrifice. He has sacrificed his life defending his brothers and sisters who stood at his side. He is my hero.
“Nicholas was a medic by duty, but he was a warrior first,” continued Benson.
Benson said he will always remember Bernier's humor and positive attitude. He recalled a special moment when Bernier performed an impromptu, a cappella rendition of a song entitled “The Safety Dance” during a mission readiness exercise.
“It was complete with a dance routine. It had the entire aid station [and me] rolling on the floor with laugher,” said Benson. “This was exactly what we needed .... Nicholas always knew what we needed. He always gave every mission task everything he had.
“Today we honor Nicholas Bernier's life. We thank him for standing next to us, and we grieve for our brother and friend,” continued Benson. “Well done. Be thou at rest - ‘Our Country, Not Ourselves.'”
U.S. Army Sgt. Carleton Thrall of Crown Point, Ind. is a medical treatment non-commissioned officer for TF Storm's HHC who is attached to Company C. Thrall said he met Bernier – or Bernie, as Thrall and other comrades affectionately called him – at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, before Bernier volunteered for an assignment with 4th BCT, 10th Mtn. Div., at Fort Polk, La.
“I thought to myself, I need to find out why on God's Earth this kid would want to leave Ft. Sam Houston and go to Ft. Polk,” said Thrall. “His response: ‘I don't want to ride around in an armored coffin with the cavalry, and I like my knees the way they are, so the Airborne is out; and, I'd like to see the infantry.'”
Thrall said Bernier proved to be one of the hardest working soldiers he ever worked with and is the single most positive man he has ever met. Bernier never had a bad thing to say about anyone and could not even conceive of making fun of people, he said. Bernier had a lot of friends in his platoon because he knew how to be a friend and how to listen, and people listened to him, he said.
“I miss you,” Thrall said, speaking to Bernier. “I am grateful you came downrange with me. You knew what you were getting into, and you did well. I am forever proud.”
U.S. Army Spc. Sean Monk, a combat medic from Buffalo, N.Y., assigned to TF Storm's Company D, said Bernier was a good soldier who would do anything asked of him without any complaints. Monk explained the significance he assigns to July 4, calling it “Our country's most revered holiday,” and how it applies to honor his fallen friend.
“Today is the day we remember those who fought for the freedoms and independence that are forged in every American,” said Monk. “Today we gather as a family, brothers and sisters in arms, to honor one of our own who served, fought and gave his life so others may have those same liberties and freedoms.
“I am honored to stand here today; and, on behalf of all the junior medics, I would like to express how deeply Bernie will be missed,” Monk continued. “He was a friend, a brother and, most of all, an American hero.”
Bernier's awards and decorations include the following: Bronze Star Medal; Purple Heart Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Afghan Campaign Medal, with campaign star; Global War on Terror Service Medal; Army Service Ribbon; Overseas Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Medical Badge; Driver and Mechanic Badge, Wheeled Vehicles.
By Combined Joint Task Force 1 Afghan
Provided through DVIDS
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