A Baghdad-based 1st Cavalry Division soldier was recently awarded the Silver Star Medal for his actions after insurgents ambushed his patrol, leaving two soldiers dead and five wounded, according to a coalition news release.

Pfc. Christopher Fernandez received the medal from 1st Cav commander Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli during a ceremony Monday.

During the May 5 ambush, insurgents detonated a roadside bomb by the patrol’s last Humvee and then fired on the soldiers. The patrol returned fire with small arms and machine guns.

Fernandez, a Tucson, Ariz.-native, returned fire with his M-249 squad automatic weapon, stopping only to reload.

Seeing that the damaged Humvee’s M-240B machine gun wasn’t in use, he ran through enemy fire to man the gun.

Fernandez used the M-240B to suppress enemy fire, even though the damaged gun was burning his hands. He manned the machine gun for about 10 minutes until the dead and wounded soldiers were evacuated.

This was the first Silver Star awarded to a 1st Cavalry soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 1st Cav is based at Fort Hood, Texas.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now