From left to right, Maj. Graham Bundy, Chief Warrant Officer 2
Christopher DeOliveira, Staff Sgt. Erin Gibson, and Sgt. Robert
Wengeler, all with C Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation
Brigade. All four Army Commendation Medals for valor Nov. 11, 2011 for
saving two critically-injured French soldiers while under fire in
the Tagab valley on Sept. 7, 2011. Photo by Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — A French platoon-sized element was
guarding a small compound, Sept. 7, when an insurgent threw a
grenade over the wall.
“Yesterday was hell,” said Maj.
Cyrille, a French medical officer in a Sept. 8 letter.
explosion killed one, and injured one other. As insurgents continued
to attack, another French soldier was shot through the throat.
Since they were almost a mile from the main supply route and the
only way to get there was a treacherous journey by foot over rocky
terrain, they called in an American helicopter to carry the injured
For their actions that day, four U.S. soldiers
received Army Commendation Medals for valor, Nov. 11, for saving the
lives of the two critically-wounded French troops in the Tagab
Valley, Kapisa province.
The medical evacuation crew arrived
overhead within minutes, only to find a battle still raging below.
There was little hope the French soldiers would survive without
U.S. Army Maj. Graham Bundy and Chief Warrant
Officer 2 Christopher DeOliveira, both with C Company, 3rd
Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, made the decision to land.
“The only thing running through your mind at that point is that
there are people down there who need our help,” said Bundy, of
Holly Springs, N.C. “You have to get to them; you can't fail.”
Sgt. Robert Wengeler, of Cheney, Wash., provided security
while Staff Sgt. Erin Gibson, a flight medic, climbed out of
the helicopter and ran to the patients.
even think about the danger at the time,” said Gibson, of
Covington, Ohio. “I just knew there were two hurt guys out
there that needed my help and I had to get them on my
Gibson triaged the patients, had them
loaded, and had the pilots lifting the wheels of the
helicopter off the ground in less than four minutes.
“We witnessed the incredible courage of the U.S. Army as
you made an air evacuation under fire only 200 meters from
our position,” said Cyrille. “Because of your actions, our
Soldiers are still alive.”
“When I heard what the
crew did that night, I was in awe of their bravery and
commitment to never leave a fallen comrade, whether it be
American or not,” said Col. T.J. Jamison, commander, 82nd
Combat Aviation Brigade. “These soldiers truly exemplify the
Gibson has a much more modest view of
“Really, I'm just doing my job like
any soldier” said Gibson.
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pahon
Combined Joint Task Force 1
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