3/1 Soldier Awarded Silver Star For Afghanistan Heroics
(October 22, 2010)
|FORT KNOX, KY (Oct. 18, 2010) - Sgt. Zachary Reese rolled the dice in 2006 as a civilian when mulling a career move. Four years later, his decision to join the U.S. Army paid off in ways he probably couldn't have imagined, with his fellow soldiers and nation the biggest winners.|
Reese received the Silver Star Medal on Monday, during a ceremony at Sadowski Field House at Fort Knox, Ky. Brig. Gen. David C. Petersen, deputy commanding general (Rear), 1st Infantry Division, presided over the ceremony.
The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy. The required gallantry must have been performed with marked distinction, which was certainly evident in Reese's case, according to Petersen.
During his comments to the audience, Petersen spoke of Reese's actions in April 2009, while assigned to a reconnaissance platoon of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment “Blue Spaders,” who are part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Reese's platoon was operating in the volatile Korengal Valley of Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Reese observed a large group of enemy fighters approaching his unit that day and reported the enemy force to his superiors. His unit was then able to take precautions and set up a hasty ambush with just enough time to deal with the threat. Several enemy fighters died where they stood because of Reese's actions, but that didn't end his involvement. After the firefight, he went back and searched the enemy dead. An enemy fighter feigning death lunged at him, but Reese was able to use his knife to dispatch the enemy.
Through it all, Reese still doesn't consider himself a hero. In fact, he's pretty quick to hand off any credit to others that he served with.
“What made it easy was having all these guys next to you,” he said.
Many others, including Petersen, felt Reese's actions that day were not only far from ordinary, but represented something even higher.
“Your bravery that day embodies the spirit of the Big Red One,” said Petersen.
Reese admits to simply doing his job. He says he was grateful that his buddies were there not only to help each other out when needed on the battlefield, but to also help pass the time with their camaraderie. Most importantly, he said, their bond and unique contributions in Afghanistan bore large amounts of mission fruit.
“We felt we were making a difference,” said Reese.
As for the next big step in his life, Reese and his wife Reina are looking forward to him becoming a civilian again. He will be leaving the Army early next year for a college classroom. Federal service may call again in the future, but Reese is hopeful it will be in the form of working for the U.S. Border Patrol.
He had gone to college previously, before his fateful decision to enlist back in 2006.
What eventually prompted him to join, then, four event-filled years ago?
“I decided the military was going to be a good bet for me,” he said.
The Army, and a grateful Nation, couldn't agree more.
Article and photo by Army Sgt. John Zumer
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division
Provided through DVIDS
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