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
“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
By Army Staff Sgt. Donna Davis
82nd Combat Aviation Brigade
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