Sgt. Timothy Gilboe was awarded the Silver Star Dec. 16, 2011, for actions in Wardak Province, Afghanistan. Photo
by T.C. Bradford, Fort Polk Public Affairs Office
FORT POLK, La. (Dec. 20, 2011 - ANS) -- The Army gives a lot of
ribbons out. There is the Army Service Ribbon presented to all those
who complete basic training. The Army Good Conduct Medal is awarded
to Soldiers who stay out of trouble and perform their duties well.
Soldiers who perform their duties better than most might be wearing
an Army Achievement Medal, a Meritorious Service Medal, or even, in
exceptional cases, the Legion of Merit.
Then there are the
medals that set people apart for a variety of reasons. Soldiers
wounded in combat earn the Purple Heart. Soldiers who demonstrate
extreme bravery in the face of the enemy could earn the Bronze Star
with a "V" device signifying valor.
One medal that people
will take notice of is the Silver Star. It's the third highest medal
a Soldier can be awarded and it is given when that Soldier shows
extreme valor in the face of the enemy. It is not awarded often, but
when it is, it has been hard earned.
The Silver Star was
awarded to a Soldier with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain
Division Dec. 16, 2011.
The 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, 4th BCT, 10th
Mtn Div was based in the Jaghato District, Wardak Province
in Afghanistan. According to Lt. Col. Tom Rickard, commander
of the 2nd Bn, 4th Inf Reg, the unit had been conducting
combat operations in the Tangi Valley in early April to
prevent the enemy from running supplies through Jaghato to
In mid-April, a joint operation with Polish
forces was conducted in Jaghato which led to the events of
April 28, 2011.
Sgt. Timothy Gilboe was assigned to
1st Platoon, Alpha Company of the 2nd Bn, 4th Inf. Div. His
platoon was conducting a patrol near Jaghato by the village
of Awalata. They came under fire and, in battle, wounded a
couple of insurgents. As they were maneuvering to assess the
situation, they came under further attack.
walking by some buildings when two more insurgents charged
them from about 30 feet away. The insurgents fired more than
60 rounds of ammunition at them, mortally wounding the squad
leader, Staff Sgt. Matt Hermanson. At the same time, shots
hit the assistant machine gunner's rucksack, setting it on
The squad returned fire, forcing the
insurgents back and Gilboe turned his attention to putting
out the rucksack, as it was filled with ammo. While he and
the assistant gunner were occupied with that task, the
insurgents tried to rush them again. A teammate, an Air
Force joint terminal attack controller assigned to 1st
platoon, shot one of the insurgents, but the other was
within 10 meters of Gilboe and coming fast.
apparently took over and he charged the remaining insurgent.
Gilboe had put his weapon down to fight the fire in the
rucksack and realized he would have no chance to retrieve it
before the enemy closed so he engaged the enemy with the
only weapons he had -- his hands and mind.
reached out and grabbed the barrel of the enemy's AK-47 and
pulled it toward his chest which was covered by an armor
plate. Gilboe said the last thing that ran through his mind
before the enemy pulled the trigger was "This is gonna hurt
The insurgent fired a burst directly into
Gilboe's chest plate, knocking the wind out of him and
sending shrapnel into his legs. Out of breath and fighting
hand-to-hand, Gilboe disarmed the insurgent then hit him in
the face several times, stunning him and allowing the
assistant gunner time and opportunity to kill him.
Gilboe was wounded, but so were his squad and platoon
leaders. Gilboe took charge of the remaining squad members,
cleared the area and set up a security perimeter. Without
regard to his own wounds, Gilboe rendered first aid to the
wounded and cared for them until the medic could prepare
them for evacuation.
When that was accomplished, he
helped load the wounded on the MEDEVAC helicopters and, only
then, allowed himself to be treated and removed from the
His Silver Star citation reads that he
"demonstrated exemplary bravery and leadership under extreme
When the rubber met the road and his life
and the lives of his fellow Soldiers were on the line,
Gilboe aggressively took the fight to the enemy and came out
victorius. Because of his actions, two Soldiers' lives were
saved and a high value target was taken out of the battle
Unfortunately, one Soldier did lose his
life -- Hermanson, Gilboe's squad leader. Standing before
his fellow Soldiers as he received the Silver Star, Gilboe
shared his thoughts on the loss of his friend and comrade.
"It's a bittersweet thing," he said. "I mean, we all
know who the real hero was. It was Matt. I'd give
everything, my medal, my worldly possessions, to have him
here today." Gilboe said.
Hermanson saw what the
team did and that they had taken out the enemy and he hoped
that brought Hermanson some closure.
Any man or woman
who joined the military since the terrorist attacks on the
World Trade Center knew that they would likely serve time in
Afghanistan or Iraq. Gilboe's mother and father, Deanna and
Steve, drove down from Maine to watch their son receive his
The only experience either had with the
military came from Gilboe's grandfather's service in the
Navy. His mother talked about her feelings the day he
announced his intentions.
"I thought he was crazy at
first when he came home and said he wanted to join the Army.
I didn't really want it to happen," she said. "But I'm happy
now that he decided to do this. He's a hero."
said Gilboe is a fair representation of the quality of
Soldier that volunteers to join the Army today.
have outstanding Soldiers joining the force. They come in
(with) eyes wide open. They know they are going to get into
a fight of some sort," he said. "It's amazing the virtue
that our folks have wanting to come in and serve their
country and they don't have illusions. They know what they
are going to get into."
Rickard talked about his
feelings as a commander of troops like Gilboe.
couldn't be prouder. Being a part of the 10th Mountain
Division is the greatest honor of my life," he said.
"Leading these men in combat has been an extraordinary honor
for me. I'm humbled to serve with them and when you meet or
hear about guys like Sergeant Gilboe, just being in the same
uniform and the same division is an honor for me."
When Gilboe first enlisted he was assigned as an engineer.
He was stationed at Fort Polk with the 1st Maneuver
Enhancement Brigade. Gilboe decided that he wanted to be an
infantryman. He had to reclassify, go back through training
and eventually was assigned to the 10th Mountain Division
right back at Fort Polk.
Even though Gilboe actively
set in motion the path that would lead to that day, among
all the recognition and accolades from friends, family and
fellow Soldiers, his greatest source of pride and kindest
words were for his friend and squad leader Hermanson.
"After the chaos was over and we got to him, we rolled
him over and his first thought was for the rest of us. He
asked if everyone else was okay," he said. Gilboe said that
Hermanson, even though mortally wounded, had the foresight
to prep a hand grenade as a last resort in case the battle
didn't turn out well. He had also made radio calls to inform
others of the situation.
"He went out fighting,"
His experience that day will color the
way he leads others going forward.
"I know (as a
leader) you need to approach every situation with a solid
plan and superior communication," he said.
story is an example that the training a Soldier receives
along with a willingness to do what needs to be done, no
matter the personal cost, can turn the tide of battle.
By T.C. Bradford
Fort Polk Public Affairs Office
Army News Service
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