On 18 March, Central Command leader General Tommy Franks awarded the Bronze Star with valor to SFC Michael A. Peterson (37, of Tawas City, MI) and SSG Randel J. Perez (30, of San Benito, TX). SPC James D. Brossoie also received a Bronze Star for valor, but was sick and unable to attend the ceremony. Franks awarded Bronze Stars for achievement to SSG Dwayne L. Simms (37, of Brooklyn, NY) and SSG David A. Hruban (26, of Park Ridge, IL). The five soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division were involved in the fierce, 18-hour long gun battle on the opening day of Operation Anaconda on 2 March.
Speaking at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Franks said the world could not thank troops enough for their contribution to the war against terror. However, the Afghans said that only a few dozen bodies had been found more than two weeks after the fighting began. In response to the speculation that many Al-Qaeda fighters got away, Franks rhetorically asked the press "Do I believe large numbers of terrorists escaped this operation and moved in to Pakistan? No, I do not. What I've seen leads me to believe that this operation was an unqualified and absolute success."
10th Mountain Division spokesman CPT. Steven O'Connor said it best: "It's not about body count. Bombs can blow bodies apart and they can remain unidentified." - Adam Geibel