Leadership: March 30, 2002

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: It appears the bar has been raised since Desert Storm.

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 gunbattle on the opening day of Operation Anaconda on 2 March. 

This brings to 15 the number of Bronze Stars for valor awarded, with another 103 Bronze Star medals for distinguished service in Afghanistan. So far, the Army has awarded 160 medals honoring soldiers serving since 7 October in Afghanistan.

Three soldiers were posthumously awarded the Silver Star. One was the first soldier killed in Operation Anaconda, Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer Stanley L. Harriman, who died March 2. The other two were awarded to Special Forces MSG Jefferson Davis and SFC Class Daniel Petithory, killed by an errant US 2,000-pound bomb in a "friendly fire" incident north of Kandahar 5 December. Another soldier killed by that bomb and eight of the Special Forces wounded received the Bronze Star. Four special operations soldiers wounded in the earlier "friendly fire" incident in Mazar-e-Sharif also received Bronze Stars. 

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

 


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