Cavalry Trooper Awarded Bronze Star Medal
(July 14, 2011)
Lt. Col. Phil Appleton, the commander of the
3rd Battalion, 116th Cavalry Regiment, 77th Sustainment Brigade,
310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, congratulates Spc.
Christopher Soderholm, a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle
driver for F Company, 3rd Battalion, and a native of Baker City,
Ore., during a July 4, 2011 Bronze Star Medal ceremony at Joint Base
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (4/10/2011) – Indecision often haunts the
heart of combat.
Inside the chaos of crisis, where the
standard definitions of time distorts and overlaps, uncertainty
rules and often a moment of hesitation translates into tragedy.
Yet for Spc. Christopher Soderholm, a mine resistant ambush
protected vehicle driver for Foxtrot Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th
Cavalry Regiment, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary
Sustainment Command and a native of Baker City, Ore., his calm
resolution proved to be the difference the night he saved his gunner
in the wake of an improvised explosive device detonation.
What Soderholm did that night and how he did it was brought into
sharp focus July 5 when he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal on
Joint Base Balad, Iraq, for his actions when the MRAP he was driving
hit an IED.
Even now, months later, Soderholm said he still struggles to
accurately express what occurred during the incident.
“It is hard to describe,” he said.|
The night of the IED strike,
Soderholm said his crew was almost back to JBB on what he called a
“It was just another mission,” he said. “I was
thinking about getting back and getting maintenance done.”
burst of light Soderholm's vehicle was hit by the blast of an IED.
As Soderholm brought the big MRAP to a stop he said muscle memory
took over. Behind him, Spc. Maximillian Miller, an MRAP gunner for F
Company and a native of Dundee, Ore., appeared to be injured. Soderholm
acted quickly as he stopped the MRAP.
“I pulled Miller out before
I opened the door,” Soderholm said.
Soderholm carried Miller out
of the MRAP and away from the vehicle. He then turned around and ran
back to the vehicle, grabbed a fire extinguisher and started to fight a
fire that had broken out from the vehicle.
The action of
carrying his gunner out of the MRAP after the IED explosion happened in
a flash for Soderholm. He said there was little forethought involved in
“When it is your buddy in there you don't hesitate,”
he said. “I pulled him out of that truck on instinct.”
Staff Sgt. Tony Cox, the MRAP truck commander and a native of Redmond,
Ore., both returned to duty shortly after the incident.
said the training he received before the battalion departed the United
States was the primary factor in his actions.
“I used to get mad
at Gowen Field, [Idaho] or Camp Shelby, [Mississippi] with some of the
training. Then I got thrown into the real world, and all that training
created muscle memory,” he said.
Soderholm also said he can now
relate to the stories he's read or heard regarding soldiers making the
ultimate sacrifice to help a comrade.
“When something like that
happens, you know, you jump on that grenade for your buddy. I understand
[now] why people do that,” he said.
Maj. Jason Lambert, the
executive officer for F Co. and a native of Hermiston, Ore., said
Soderholm's performance that night was outstanding.
“I think he
captures the essence of what makes a great Cavalry trooper. A soldier
who steps up like that has a huge impact on the entire unit through his
example. It sets the tone,” said Lambert.
“I'm extremely proud of
Chris Soderholm. He is a very brave kid,” said Capt. Max Arvidson, the
commander of F Company and a native of Parma, Idaho.
reserved soldier, Soderholm said he is pleased he was awarded the Bronze
Star medal but added he was simply doing his duty.
“I was able to
do what I was supposed to do when I needed to. I'm proud I was able to
do my job,” he said.
Article and photo by Army SSgt. Patrick Caldwell
77th Sustainment Brigade
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