'Freedom Awards' To General and Resilient Ranger
(June 2, 2011)
|WASHINGTON (May 25, 2011) -- "No Greater Sacrifice" Freedom
Awards were presented May 24 to the former U.S. commander in
Iraq and a Ranger who lost his leg from an injury there, but
returned to combat duty.|
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph R. Kapacziewski, who just
returned from Afghanistan, and Gen. Raymond T.
Odierno were named recipients of the award. The
Freedom Award is bestowed annually on those who
"epitomize selfless service to the nation and
represent the very best of our men and women in
uniform," according to NGS founders, Kirk
Rostran and Pete Bilden.
The two Soldiers
were honored during a gala event in Washington,
D.C., by donors to the NGS Foundation -- which
provides college scholarships to the children of
those servicemembers who have fallen in combat.
The organization has raised
L to R - Gen. Raymond
T. Odierno, SFC Joseph R. Kapacziewski, and Sen.
some $3 million to that end, and provided full
academic scholarships to 19 children and spouses
of fallen servicemembers.
Kapacziewski, now part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, was
injured in combat in 2005 in Iraq. The six-vehicle convoy
Kapacziewski rode in was ambushed, and a grenade fell
through the gunner's hatch of his Stryker. Three Rangers
were injured by the grenade, including Kapacziewski.|
"Throughout the firefight, he did all he could to remove his
troops from danger, to remove those that were fallen --
putting himself last, and only attending to his own wounds
after he was sure all his comrades were accounted for and
safe," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, who
presented the awards.
Kapacziewski went through 40
surgeries to repair his body. Through it all, he was
determined to continue to be a Soldier -- even though his
doctors told him he might never walk again.
Kapacziewski that was not a statement of resignation, but a
statement of challenge -- that called him to yet another
battle to prove that those doctors were wrong," Lieberman
said. Comparing Kapacziewski to other wounded Soldier's he's
met, the senator said, "they want to get back to their unit,
they want to get back to the fight. They want to get back in
service to our country."
Kapacziewski now continues
to serve as an Army Ranger. He recently returned from his
ninth rotation in theater -- having supported both Operation
Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Raymond T. Odierno, who currently serves as commander of the
United States Joint Forces Command, was also named recipient
of the NGS Freedom Award. Until September, he served as
commander of U.S. Force-Iraq.
"Odierno had the
ability to inspire not only our troops, but the Iraqi people
at a time when many people thought the cause was lost," said
Sen. Lindsey Graham, who spoke about the general before he
received the award. Graham, an Air Force Reserve judge
advocate, had served under Odierno.
in the past about the outcome of the conflict in Iraq,
Graham said contributions from Odierno turned the tide
"This war is going to go on for a very long
time in some forms," he said. "But let it be said that Iraq
and Afghanistan, with patience and determination, will go
into the win column."
While not in Washington for the
event, Gen. David Petraeus, commander, International
Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, spoke
to the crowd via prerecorded message.
of spirit and character that Sgt. Kapacziewski has shown in
overcoming his injuries and in returning to full duty with
the Ranger Regiment and in leading his men in combat with
such distinction is an inspiration to all of us in uniform,"
Petraeus said. "I consider it the greatest of privileges to
have served in the same combat zone with you."
general also had words for his fellow general, Odierno --
the two served together first in the earliest days in Iraq,
During the surge, Petraeus said, when he was
the Multi-National Forces - Iraq commander, Odierno was the
Multi-National Corps " Iraq commander.
leadership of MNC-I was absolutely magnificent, his
operational vision was exceptional, his determination was
extraordinary, and his drive was legendary," Petraeus said.
"It was an enormous privilege to have him as a key member of
the team during that pivotal period in Iraq."
assumed Petraeus' position at MNF-I in September 2008. "He
continued to make a tremendous impact in the land of the two
rivers as the overall commander there for another two
years," Petraeus said.
In October 2010, Odierno took
command of U.S. Joint Forces Command, "shouldering with
great skill and vision, the delicate task of transitioning
vital capabilities of JFCOM to other organizations to enable
the disestablishment of that command," Petraeus said. "In
short, General Ray Odierno is an exceptional leader who
truly epitomizes the selfless service that the No Greater
Sacrifice Freedom Award honors."
spoke at the end of the event, saying the award was less
about him than about those who enabled him to earn it.
"That award is not for me. It for the hundreds of
thousands of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who
served under my command, who sacrificed much greater than I
ever did, who have a love for their country," Odierno said.
"They want to bring something better to somebody else, and
they have a love for their family."
Army News Service|
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