Army Special Forces MSgt. Matthew Williams Receives Medal of Honor
by Devon L. Suits, Army News Service
October 31, 2019
President Donald J. Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Master
Sgt. Matthew Williams Wednesday, for his actions in Shok Valley that
saved the lives of his fellow Soldiers and commandos.
Williams is the second member of his detachment to receive the Medal
of Honor for the same operation. Former-Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II,
the team's medic, was recognized for his lifesaving actions on October 1,
October 30, 2019 -
President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to
U.S. Army Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams during a ceremony
at the White House in Washington, D.C. Williams was awarded
the Medal of Honor for his actions while serving as a
weapons sergeant with the Special Forces Operational
Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in
support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan on
April 6, 2008. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Keisha Brown)
"The battle of Shok Valley is a testament to the
overwhelming strength, lethal skill, and unstoppable might of the
United States Army Special Forces and all of our military," Trump
Then-Sgt. Williams served as a weapons sergeant with
Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force 11,
Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan, during the
operation on April 6, 2008.
On that day, Williams joined
other U.S Soldiers and Afghan commandos as a member of the
rear-assault element. Credible intelligence had led the team to the
valley in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, where they dropped in by
helicopter and quickly moved toward their objective.
the first Americans reached the edge of the valley, at the base of a
100-foot mountain, a handful of Special Forces scouted ahead," Trump
said. "The lead group was 60 feet up the slope when roughly 200
insurgents savagely attacked. It was a big surprise -- a very
Calls from the first element started
coming in -- they had sustained several casualties and were pinned
down at a higher elevation. Shurer and Master Sgt. Scott Ford joined
Williams as he organized his Afghan commando force and led a
counterassault against the enemy, Trump said.
weapons sergeant and his team made their way to the base of the
mountain with three wounded Soldiers. He and the Afghan commandos
continued to provide a counterattack, as the enemy tried to overrun
their casualty collection point.
As medical evacuation
helicopters arrived, Williams risked his own life to help move the
casualties. Through it all, he continued to direct commando fires,
which enabled the safe evacuation of the wounded and dead.
"[Williams's] incredible heroism helped ensure that not a single
American soldier died in the battle of Shok Valley," Trump said.
"His ground commander later wrote, 'I've never seen a troop so
poised, focused, and capable during a fight in matters without
question and reservation. [He is] one of the bravest soldiers and
people I've ever met," Trump added.
During the White House
ceremony, Matt was accompanied by his wife Kate, his father Michael,
mother Janet, brother Cody and sister Amy.
"Each of you has
strengthened our nation through your steadfast love and support, and
we want to thank you," Trump said.
"They have a young son,
Nolan, who will turn 3 next week," the president said. "In the years
to come, Nolan will learn that his father stands among the ranks of
our nation's greatest heroes."
Many of Willaims' teammates
were able to attend the White House ceremony, to include: Shurer,
Luis Morales, Karl Wurzbach, Seth Howard, David Sanders, John
Walding, Dillon Behr, and Ryan Wallen. Two Afghan translators that
helped support the ODA's mission were also at the event.
more than a decade, Matt has stared down our enemies, fought back
the forces of terror, and exemplified the virtue and gallantry of
the American warrior," Trump said. "He has completed five tours in
Afghanistan, a deployment in Africa, and he continues to serve our
country on active duty today."
Medal of Honor is more than just one person, Williams said during a
media event Tuesday. The medal represents a story of teamwork, trust
and brotherhood, and how the team never chose to quit during the
Williams joined ODA 3336 shortly after graduating
from the Special Forces Qualification Course -- just weeks before
the detachment's scheduled deployment, said retired Master Sgt.
Scott Ford, who also attended the White House ceremony.
missed a huge part of our train up," said Ford, the detachment's
former team sergeant. "Training for him started in combat. Being one
of the youngest members within the detachment, I gave him as much
responsibility as I would for my most senior members, early on. I
recognized his potential and maturity as a leader."
was "always trying to find work," Lt. Col. Kyle Walton recalled.
Then-Capt. Walton served as the commander during the Shok Valley
operation. He was also at the White House ceremony to show his
"When Matt completed one task, he showed right back
up -- all of it under fire, and all of it under extreme physical
stress with enemy activity around us," Walton said.
approximately 70 close airstrikes, to include one right on top of
our position," Walton said. "And through the clouds and the dust,
Matt would reappear looking for more work. His actions demonstrated
that 'refusal to quit.' Traits we look for in our Green Berets."
Through the near-seven-hour operation, Williams always found a
way to move safely around the battlespace, Shurer said. His actions
helped save the lives of four critically wounded Soldiers.
Then-Sgt. Matthew Williams with Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), sit outside a small village in Eastern Afghanistan in May 2008. (Photo
courtesy of Master Sgt. Matthew Williams)
Ford was one of the Soldiers injured during the operation. He was
initially knocked to the ground after a sniper round made contact
with his chest plate. Another sniper bullet penetrated through his
left arm moments later.
"Everyone else was either hit … or
wounded by enemy fire," Walton said, explaining the severity of the
With a tourniquet applied to his injured limb,
Ford said he was determined to move down the mountain without
assistance, but Williams was there to provide support.
was the one that came to me and said, 'Hey, you're going to need
help getting down the mountain.' I didn't even realize how much my
balance would be off." Ford said. "I just didn't want to take
another gun out of the fight at that moment."
barrage of fire, Williams grabbed Ford and assisted him down the
mountain and handed him off to then-Staff Sgt. Seth Howard for
"We trained hard to be ready for that day," Ford
said. "We had to react to the situation as it developed. There was
no option to give up. It took everybody stepping up at another
The joint force was responsible for taking out more
than 200 insurgents during the battle. However, at the end of the
day, "the enemy gets a say, and they chose to fight hard that day,"
"I think a lesson learned… is that our Soldiers
will never quit, and they will never leave someone behind," Walton
"These awards … demonstrate the kind of quality of guys
that we have, and the values of the American Soldier," he added.
"ODA 3336 is still out there right now, and they are doing missions
on behalf of the nation. Missions everyone would be proud of if they
knew what they were doing right now."
Master Sgt. Matthew Williams >
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