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Heroes 2016

“American soldiers in battle don’t fight for what some president says on TV. They don’t fight for Mom, apple pie, the American flag. They fight for one another.”

Harold “Hal” Moore, commander of the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, led outnumbered troops to victory in Ia Drang Valley in 1965 -- the first major battle of the Vietnam War.

His understanding of what motivates members of the military is reflected throughout the 2016 Stars and Stripes edition of Heroes, which began in 2005 as a tribute to valor for the war on terrorism.

Since then, the focus has expanded to include medals awarded years late – Medal of Honor recipient Charles Kettles, whose daring helicopter rescue amid heavy enemy fire came in 1967 in Vietnam – and medals delayed by missing paperwork, like the Silver Stars awarded to former Sgt. Eric Robert II and retired Chief Master Sgt. Ronald Brodeur for efforts in Cambodia in 1969. All were presented this year.

Some medals were earned outside the battlefield. Staff Sgt. Joshua Schneiderman’s Soldier’s Medal came from saving a fellow fisherman in the Copper River in Alaska.

Sadly, some medals mark the ultimate sacrifice. Sgt. 1st Class Matthew McClintock was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for selfless efforts in Marjah, Afghanistan, on Jan. 5.

“The only part that makes you able to breathe and go on is that he did it heroically,” his mother Joyce Montoya-Helgesed said. “He did it for others.”

That fits anyone’s definition of a hero.

Tina Croley,


Managing Editor for Content

“American soldiers in battle don’t fight for what some president says on TV. They don’t fight for Mom, apple pie, the American flag.They fight for one another,” said Harold “Hal” Moore who commanded troops in the first major battle of the Vietnam War.

His understanding of what motivates members of the military is reflected throughout the 2016 Stars and Stripes edition of Heroes.

Medal of Honor

'Near the end of the day, things didn’t get any better'

Eight soldiers, stranded in a dry riverbed in Vietnam, faced a grim fate as they watched U.S. gunships and other air power disappear from the sky.


‘They will lay down their life for you if they have to’

At some point during the long journey leading to a tiny, one-room building deep in the remote eastern Afghanistan mountains where an American civilian was being held hostage, Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Edward C. Byers Jr. bowed his head.


‘I put my hands on the man who killed four’

In a matter of seconds, Capt. Florent “Flo” Groberg’s life changed forever.

Photos

Navy Cross

‘They were 2 of a kind’

Scaling buildings under heavy fire and dropping grenades down the chimney on the enemy sounds like something out of a Chuck Norris movie — yet that is what Marine Gunnery Sgts. Jonathan Gifford and Daniel Price did to break the stalemate during a hellacious battle in Badghis province, Afghanistan, on July 29, 2012.

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Distinguished Flying Cross

‘I knew where I was; I knew what I was doing’

Sometimes heroism is a team effort. That’s how Petty Officer 3rd Class Evan Staph and Lt. J.D. Hess describe their roles in the helicopter rescue last year of two sailors whose boat was disabled during a winter storm 200 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Mass.


‘Those guys were trapped ... So we knew we had to be the ones to make a difference’

Few battles waged over the last 15 years have given rise to more storied figures than the fight for a small combat outpost in Nuristan province, near the village of Kamdesh. As the sun rose on Oct. 3, 2009, about 300 Taliban launched a surprise attack on COP Keating.

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Community Heroes

‘God has been good to me all the way around’

When 19-year-old Carl Willm’s Army platoon leader asked whether he could swim, the young private's “yes” sent him on a perilous patrol deep into enemy territory.

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