Philip Buswell ‘No one wants to run out when bullets are impacting’
June 14, 2009
Unit: 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group
Medal: Bronze Star with "V"
Earned: June 6, 2008, north of Kabul, Afghanistan
Fresh from escaping an ambush that left him with a bullet hole through his arm, Capt. Philip Buswell led his troops on a two-kilometer jaunt to link up with the rest of his team patrolling in another area.
Buswell, a 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group team leader, was leading a humanitarian reconnaissance mission north of Kabul. It was dangerous territory that these Green Berets knew well. Insurgents were plentiful, direct contact frequent.
When Buswell linked up with his other element — their power now consolidated — the team headed back to base, having completed the reconnaissance. "We’re all on edge because bullets have flown in recent memory," he said.
The team, a mix of Green Berets, Romanian special forces and Afghan army members, moved out deliberately. But when they approached a clearing, it was time to sprint.
The Afghans headed across first, running the roughly 40-yard open zone without a shot being fired in their direction.
Then Buswell moved his group forward.
"It isn’t my lucky day that day. We’re halfway across and machine guns and RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] start hitting at us from about 200 meters away," he recalled. "But we make it across."
With fire still pouring down, the Romanian team members were not in a good position. Buswell ordered up suppressive fire, aimed in the direction of the plumes of smoke from the RPGs.
The incoming fire continued, but not as heavy as before. That’s when Buswell waved the Romanians across.
But counting as they ran, Buswell realized there was a problem. One, two, three …
"We’re one short," he said. "They make it across and I’m like, ‘Where’s Benny?’ " Buswell said.
Benny, apparently unaware his peers had decided to make their move across, was sitting back in a dangerous position alone.
"It was just a split decision. I didn’t want to do it," he said.
But he did it.
Buswell grabbed a Romanian standing next to him and the two charged back for Benny, a Romanian special forces soldier.
After grabbing Benny, the three men turned to head back across the kill zone. Time for more trouble.
"The machine guns ran dry. There’s a period of no more machine-gun suppression as we’re getting ready to run back across. But I’m thinking now is as good a time as any. It’s only going to get worse by hanging out on the other side, so we ran back," Buswell said.
Once they made it across, the insurgents melted away.
"There’s quite a bit of fear. No one wants to run out when bullets are impacting," Buswell said. "But you can’t ask someone else to do something that you aren’t willing to do yourself."
For his courage, Buswell’s troops nominated him for the Bronze Star with "V" device.