Green Berets get Bronze Stars for Afghan battles
January 24, 2009
BÖBLINGEN, Germany — You don’t know when they’re coming or going.
Their deployments aren’t public, and afterward the men from the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group are almost invisible in the Stuttgart military community, rarely talking about what they’ve seen or done.
But during a small ceremony Friday at the Panzer Kaserne gymnasium, four Green Berets from 1-10’s Company A were honored with Bronze Star Medals with Valor for their actions during a recent combat tour in remote parts of Afghanistan.
"The gallant effort that was put forward in defeating the enemy by these warriors is being recognized today," said Maj. John Holevas, commander of Company A, 1-10, moments before pinning the soldiers with their stars.
Capt. Philip Buswell and Sgt. 1st Class James Cannon were recognized for their actions last summer in the Tagab Valley, north of Kabul. Staff Sgt. Andre Cilliers also will receive the Bronze Star with V device, but he continues to recover at Walter Reed Army Medical Center from injuries he sustained during the fight.
Staff Sgt. Jarred Shewey and Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Jackson were awarded for their bravery during a battle in the Uzbin Valley, which was the sight of an ambush that made headlines around the world.
On Aug. 18, the 12-member Green Beret team led by Capt. Richard Nessel was on patrol in the Uzbin Valley with two French platoons and an Afghan army platoon. At 2 p.m., enemy fighters opened fire in the valley known to be a safe haven for insurgents. Rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire came pouring in. A French platoon leader was killed at the start and nine other French soldiers were killed during the battle.
Shewey and Jackson both declined to discuss the actions that led to their Bronze Stars.
Nessel, their team leader, said Shewey and Jackson, as well as the rest of team, did it all during the fight. "The battle lasted for 22 hours because we just didn’t leave," said Nessel, who was one of six soldiers who received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor at the ceremony.
"The biggest thing that was different — everyone on the team went above and beyond. They dove right in and they didn’t stop," he said.
From providing medical care to the dozens of wounded coalition partners around them, to coordinating air support, to engaging with the enemy, the soldiers took charge, Nessel said.
In their barracks at Panzer Kaserne, a French flag hangs on the wall with the names of the French soldiers they fought alongside.
"It was a significant battle. It was an area that was an untouchable safe haven," said Maj. Robert Berg, the task force’s commander during the deployment, who said 1-10’s operation there has diminished the enemy’s capacity to operate in the area.
Another Company A team, led by Buswell, was recognized for its efforts in battles that happened in the Tagab Valley on June 6 and Aug. 9.
Buswell, who was shot in the arm but continued to fight in one of those battles, said during the course of his unit’s deployment any number of soldiers could have been honored with similar awards.
"Looking back, I’m really proud of my guys," he said.
One of Buswell’s soldiers — Sgt. 1st Class James Cannon — had few words about the actions that led to his award. But Cannon apparently had a reputation in the region for his toughness.
"The insurgents were on alert and told not to attack the patrol if the short, bearded one was with them," said Holevas, referring to Cannon.