Six months after they were killed by an IED in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins and Spc. Cody J. Patterson of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment were posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device during a combat awards ceremony Tuesday at Fort Benning.
Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, also presented a Silver Star, the third-highest military decoration for valor, 10 other Bronze Stars, 33 Purple Hearts and 18 Army Commendations with Valor Device for the Rangers actions between Aug. 20 and Dec. 17. During the period, the battalion conducted more than 140 missions that killed or captured 250 enemy insurgents and leaders.
Hawkins, 25, and Patterson, 24, were going to aid eight Rangers with a series of improvised explosive devices when they were killed Oct. 5. The soldiers, who were aware of other possible roadside bombs, entered the area to evacuate the wounded to a medevac helicopter on the ground.
“These Rangers sacrificed themselves in an attempt to provide aid to wounded members of their assault force in dire circumstances,” the citation stated.
Spc. Samuel Rae Crockett was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on Oct. 5 when an assault team encountered multiple roadside bombs while searching for a Taliban network leader. Eight members of the strike force were injured after three IEDs went off. Jani, a multi-purpose canine, was sent after a fleeing insurgent hiding in vegetated terrain when the enemy detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and the canine.
First Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, assigned to the Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., went to aid a wounded soldier when she triggered an IED and died instantly.
Moments later, Patterson stepped on a similar device. He and Hawkins were mortally wounded. Special Agent Joseph M. Peters, assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment in Vicenza, Italy, was the fourth soldier killed as he triggered two more devices.
After another roadside bomb detonated and left a Ranger’s right leg amputated, Crockett rendered aid to the wounded soldier and cleared a path for the helicopter landing zone to recover casualties and equipment from the battle field. He was responsible for recovering the body of Moreno.
“Despite the imminent danger inherent to maneuvering through the IED belt, Spc. Crockett repeatedly elected to enter uncleared areas and in the process, recovered 14 total personnel,” the citation stated.
Bronze Stars were presented to Sgt. 1st Class Moradda J. Tedesco, Sgt. 1st Class Kerry S. Wertz II, Spc. Logan T. Howard, Senior Airman Tristan S. Windle, Staff Sgt. Aaron A. Arnold, Staff Sgt. Ryan L.Flora, Staff Sgt. Richard J. Cessna, Staff Sgt. Kelan W. Horton, Staff Sgt. Zachary P. Skinner and Cpl. Joshua L. Hergis. The Rangers were cited for helping to recover wounded soldiers from the battlefield and to clear the area of explosives.
Arnold of Medway, Ohio, said the challenge shows what soldiers are made of as Rangers.
“I was proud to see all of my other brothers up there” said Arnold, the recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. “I’m happy to be in such a great organization. Proud to serve with fellow Rangers.”
Staff photographer Robin Trimarchi contributed to this report.