FORWARD OPERATING BASE APACHE, Afghanistan - On Oct. 5, 2013, a brown on blue incident occurred on Forward Operation Base Apache, claiming the life of Spc. Angel Lopez, a mechanic for Bravo Company, 201st Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, and wounding Cpt. Christopher Turner, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, prepare for the receiving of their combat awards during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Apache, Oct. 31, 2013. The soldiers received either a Purple Heart, ARCOM-V, combat action badge or a combat infantry badge for the actions they took during an incident on Oct. 5, 2013 which claimed the life of one U.S. soldier and wounded another. (U.S Army photo by Sgt. Kandi Huggins, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Public Affairs)
For their valorous acts during that incident, five Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, were awarded combat related awards.
Turner, 1st Lt. Dan Kitchell, HHC executive officer, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hunter, brigade engineer noncommissioned officer, and Sgt. Joseph Hall, operations noncommissioned officer, were each awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor device.
In addition to the ARCOMs, Turner was awarded a Purple Heart for wounds received during the incident. Kitchell was awarded the combat action badge. Hall was awarded the combat infantry badge and Sgt. Joshua Livingston, geospatial intelligence noncommissioned officer, was awarded an ARCOM and the combat action badge.
“I'm saddened because we lost a soldier that day,” said Turner, Clearwater, Fla., native. “I am glad the five of us were in the right place at the right time because it could've been worse if we weren't there.”
In a sworn statement made by Hunter, he stated he was in the motor pool around 11:00 a.m. when he saw U.S. soldiers firing their weapons while taking a knee, using their truck as cover and concealment.
“I started walking towards them to figure out what was going on when I saw them engaging a Non-U.S. person wearing brown pants and a brown shirt,” said the Ajo, Ariz., native. “The non-U.S. person was wearing body armor and a helmet, shooting his AK at U.S. Soldiers.”
At that point he said he got behind a concrete wall to the side of the Non-U.S. person and engaged him along with the other U.S. Soldiers.
“It was all muscle memory,” said Hall, Blanchester, Ohio, native. “I don't remember climbing under the truck, I was just there. It was all involuntary.”
Kitchell, a Pekin, Ill., native, said the incident really opened people's eyes.
“We were doing an inventory, never expecting anything to happen,” said Kitchell. “I think it made us all more aware that things can happen here and for us to not ever be too comfortable and to not let our guard down.”
“I'm proud of the four other guys here as well as the vigilance and situational awareness of the Romanians in the guard tower,” said Turner. “The guy in the tower knew something was out of the ordinary and with friendly elements in his sector of fire, he engaged the enemy with his sniper rifle and provided over watch for us.”
Col. William Ostlund, commander of 3rd Brigade and CTF DUKE, stated “we train to react at the speed of life, then we must own our actions. I am very proud these men did just that – expected but appreciated just the same.”
By U.S Army Sgt. Kandi Huggins
Provided through DVIDS
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