Actions during attack in Iraq earn Bronze Star for 256th BCT soldier
January 2, 2005
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq — For the first time since its deployment to Iraq began in September, a soldier from the 256th Brigade Combat Team has earned the Bronze Star Medal with the Valor device.
Sgt. David L. Bernal, of Company D, 1st Battalion, 101st Cavalry Regiment — attached to 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment — was presented the award at a New Year’s Eve ceremony. Along with the medal, Bernal was promoted from corporal to sergeant.
According to the award citation, Bernal’s actions on Nov. 10 saved an untold number of soldiers in his platoon. It said that while patrolling in Humvees, the unit came under a coordinated ambush by an unknown number of insurgent fighters. During the fight, several of the company’s vehicles got bogged down.
“In keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect[ing] great credit upon himself,” Bernal repeatedly drove his own vehicle back into the ambush to help the disabled vehicles get out of the kill zone, officials said.
Bernal drove back into fire one final time to pick up a number of soldiers fighting on foot.
During the ceremony, 256th BCT commander Brig. Gen. John Basilica Jr. also awarded 32 Combat Infantryman Badges and eight Combat Medic Badges. The CIB has become a sore point for many soldiers in Iraq who perform as infantrymen but are not eligible for the award because their primary military specialty is something else.
After the awards ceremony, the brigade’s soldiers were treated to a series of New Year’s Eve events at various venues on base. A few live bands, lots of food and entertainment were mixed in with non-alcoholic beer, sparkling fruit juice and party favors as the time approached midnight. Some soldiers went to call centers and phoned home; others watched movies in their trailers, enjoying the down time.
But the soldiers got a quick reminder of where they are and the dangers they will face in 2005.
Around 7:30 a.m. Saturday, a single mortar round slammed into an open area in the camp, causing no damage but giving many there a rude awakening.
A few minutes later, a second round came in, rattling windows and trailers but also causing no injuries.