FORT BENNING, GA -- Sgt. 1st Class John Melson was honored at
Fort Benning on August 23, 2013, as he was presented the Bronze Star
Medal with "V" device for valor, for his actions more than four
years ago while fighting off a Taliban ambush in Gerani,
A Soldier from the Warrior Training Center congratulates Sgt.
1st Class John Melson Friday at Hurley Hill after Melson was
presented with the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device on August 23,
2013 for valor for his actions during an attempted Taliban ambush in
Gerani, Afghanistan, in May 2009. U.S. Army photo by Patrick A.
"I am thankful and extremely grateful for this
recognition," said Melson, who is now a Ranger instructor
for the Army National Guard Warrior Training Center's Ranger
Training and Assessment Course. "It was the combined actions
of my team that day that assisted me in my success. I am
thankful that my team and I shot straighter that day."
Melson was serving as a member of a 10-man team in May
2009 when he, his Soldiers and 13 Afghanistan National
Police were attacked by about 250 Taliban fighters.
Melson manned a .50-caliber machine gun atop an armored
Humvee, using it to destroy several enemy fighting positions
while machine gun fire, mortars and rocket-propelled
grenades rained down on his vehicle.
As the firefight
continued, the driver of Melson's Humvee lost control of the
vehicle, falling off the road and into an irrigation canal,
causing the vehicle to flip and take on water.
leapt from the vehicle, and led efforts to get the vehicle
upright, saving the driver who had been trapped within.
After helping to recover the vehicle and its driver, Melson
returned to the .50-caliber machine gun, providing fire that
gave the team time to drive away from the ambush.
During the fight, Melson and his team killed more than 50
Melson said he never stopped to
consider his actions during the ambush.
"From what I
can remember, there really wasn't much of a thought
process," he said. "It was just doing what was right, and
what was right to me was to not leave anybody behind."
The Bronze Star, the military's fourth-highest
individual award, was Melson's fourth, with three previous
medals being awarded for his actions over the course of six
"My entire career up to this point has
been an amazing run," he said. "I know I must have a
guardian angel, or God has a plan for me that I just haven't
figured out yet."
Melson was presented his fourth
Bronze Star by Lt. Gen. William Ingram Jr., the director of
the Army National Guard.
During the ceremony, Ingram
said Melson's sacrifices could never be adequately rewarded.
"Our nation can never fully repay you for the actions
and the sacrifices you voluntarily made throughout your
multiple deployments," Ingram said. "Your actions in May
2009 embody the Soldier's creed. On behalf of the nation,
the United States Army and the Army National Guard, it is my
honor to recognize your bravery and selfless service with
the presentation of the Bronze Star with V device."
Of his six deployments, Melson said the 2009 combat tour
stands out to him because of his team's ability to change
the attitude of the enemy.
"The enemy saw us as a
soft target, but during our tour there we quickly changed
their opinion of us," he said. "This tour was an amazing
tour, and I was lucky to be teamed up with the guys that I
Melson served three years in the Marines, from
1989 to 1992, before leaving. After the events of 9/11,
however, Melson said he felt compelled to return to military
service, and did so by joining the Massachusetts Army
Since enlisting with the National
Guard, Melson has completed Ranger School, and also attended
Airborne and Air Assault Schools, the Military
Mountaineering Course and the Combat Adviser Course.
Despite his six combat tours, Melson said he is ready to
fight again if called upon.
"Our country is at war,
so if I have the opportunity to go back, that's what I'm
trained to do -- fight the enemy," he said. "I'm probably
better served by being overseas fighting the enemy than
staying here stateside."
By U.S. Army Nick Duke
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