'Other soldiers ... were depending on us'
June 14, 2005
1st Lt. Christopher P. Dean.1st Lieutenant Christopher P. Dean
Unit: 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Division
Medal: Silver Star
Earned: April 4, 2004, Baghdad, Iraq
First Lt. Christopher P. Dean said his troops didn’t think twice when they got the call to save an isolated platoon under attack in Sadr City, Iraq.
As the tank platoon leader of a Quick Reaction Force, Dean got the call for his unit during a change-of-responsibility ceremony on April 4, 2004.
Dean led Company C, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment through intense action to save 19 trapped soldiers. The troops, from the 1st Cavalry Division, had already lost one soldier and had others who were wounded.
Dean’s force fought and killed the attacking enemy without ground-troop support. In the fight, one of Dean’s soldiers was killed and another wounded.
Dean, who also suffered wounds to his neck and arm, says the soldiers under him deserve the credit for the successful mission.
“There’s nothing in the world like the American soldier. Even in the face of a kill zone, they knew other soldiers out there were depending on us and not a single man second-guessed his duty,” he said.
The 25-year-old West Point graduate said he fed off the bravery of his men as he led them out of five miles of densely populated and constricted city streets.
That is where Dean ended his tale, but the Army, which awarded Dean the Silver Star, had much more to say.
According to his citation, Dean, trailblazing out of the ambush along Route Delta, fought from out of the hatch of his tank. He took loads of small-arms fire and several rocket-propelled grenades. He fought back, killing a number of attackers on rooftops and in alleyways. Then, he dismounted his tank during an intense defense of the casualty evacuation site and ensured that all soldiers from both his unit and the infantry platoon were safe.
“First Lt. Dean’s leadership ensured the success of the company mission to evacuate 19 infantrymen isolated and surrounded by the enemy. First Lt. Dean’s exceptional bravery while under intense fire during a four-hour attack despite wounds is in the highest traditions of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Armored Division and the United States Army,” read the final lines of the citation.
Dean said this Army recognition gave him an overwhelming sense of honor and pride, but the real satisfaction is that he continues to lead soldiers.
“I love being a platoon leader,” Dean said, who is currently the mortar platoon leader for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment out of Friedberg, Germany. “It’s an honor to lead America’s sons and daughters — the finest people in the world.”
Dean currently is in Grafenwöhr showing his troops to train as they fight. He’s going over unconventional firing positions, like those needed to win battles in Iraq.
“The fact is that we train to be ready. It’s fun and it’s what soldiers like to do.”