15 December 2009

Chosen Soldiers receive awards

Maj. Gen. Michael Ferriter pins the Silver Star Medal on Staff Sgt. Justin D. Grimm. Grimm was awarded the honor for his actions during a 2008 battle when his unit, which was preparing to leave Afghanistan after a 15-month tour, was attacked by as many as 200 insurgents resulting in the death of nine Americans. Photo: Joe Paull, Ledger-Enquirer.

Fort Benning Airborne soldier awarded Silver Star

Staff Sgt. Justin D. Grimm was awarded the Silver Star — the nation’s third highest military decoration behind the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross — in a ceremony held Monday on Fort Benning.

Grimm earned the Silver Star for his actions during the July 13, 2008, battle of Wanat in Afghanistan while assigned to Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, Vincenza, Italy.

Two of Grimm’s fellow staff sergeants each received a Bronze Star.

“To get an award is great,” Grimm said following the ceremony, “but a lot of these tough fights, anybody out there — everybody out there — deserves a valor award. It’s just certain members get recognized. So, I don’t know the best way to describe it. It’s humbling.”

On the morning of July 13, as Chosen Company was preparing to leave Afghanistan after a 15-month tour of duty, their vehicle patrol base was attacked by about 200 insurgents. The battle lasted for hours. In the end, more than 50 insurgents were killed and nine American lives were lost. Twenty seven more Americans were wounded in action.

Grimm was serving as a squad leader when the insurgents struck.

“He immediately ran forward in order to prevent the enemy from overrunning one of the outposts,” his award citation says. “He manned a Squad Automatic Weapon in order to suppress the enemy and bring relief to the beleaguered defenders, and on numerous occasions left his covered position to render first aid to wounded soldiers and help move them to safety. Despite the heavy volume of accurate enemy fire impacting all around his position and forcing him to take cover, he refused to abandon his post, detonating a mine and lobbing grenades into the enemy ranks, thwarting their advance and forcing them to retreat.”

Staff Sgt. Clifton M. Anderson Jr. and Staff Sgt. Michael J. Lawrence, also assigned to Chosen Company, each received a Bronze Star with “V” Device for their actions during a separate battle in the Chowkay Valley on June 23, 2008.

“I’ve got to give it to my soldiers, basically,” Lawrence said of his honor. “The soldiers that served with me while I was there and fought right alongside with me. They deserve it just as much as I do.”

An Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device was given to senior line medic Staff Sgt. Zachari A. Rushing for his actions following a catastrophic improvised explosive device strike in 2007 in Charbaran District, Afghanistan. Rushing was assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment.

Grimm, Anderson, Lawrence and Rushing are all currently assigned to units on Fort Benning.

Congratulations, Sky Soldiers!

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