Two sergeants award Soldier’s Medal
Mideast edition, Thursday, August 30, 2007
COMBAT OUTPOST CLEARY, Iraq — Two Army sergeants were awarded the Soldier’s Medal on Wednesday for saving the lives of three comrades after their Humvee flipped over into a water-filled canal during a patrol in April.
Sgt. Christofer M. Kitto, 23, of Altamont, N.Y., and Sgt. Michael C. Pesamoska, 25, of Lake Orion, Mich., both snipers with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, were awarded the medal, the Army’s highest noncombat award, for “meritorious, selfless acts” during the April 24 incident.
Kitto and Pesamoska were riding in the back seats of a Humvee when their convoy received a report that a nearby Iraqi checkpoint was being fired upon by insurgents. While responding, their Humvee rolled over into a canal and was submerged upside down in three to four feet of water.
The two soldiers managed to free themselves and shed their gear. They then went back into the dark, murky water for three other soldiers who were still trapped inside the vehicle.
Kitto, who managed to get out first, freed the vehicle commander and gunner, while Pesamoska pulled the driver to safety. All three were trapped completely underwater.
Both soldiers were surprised when they later learned that they had been put in for the citation. Both said they were just doing what they had been trained to do.
“I didn’t think what I did was all that great to deserve it,” said Pesamoska.
“We just think anybody else would’ve done the same thing if they were put in the same situation,” said Kitto. “The only thing special we did was that we kept our calm.”
Still, added Pesamoska, “it wasn’t even an option not to go back in” the water.
Lt. Col. Jack Marr, commander of 1-15th Infantry, said Kitto and Pesamoska showed “genuine courage” that night.
Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, who oversees daily operations in Iraq, flew in from Baghdad to award the medal. He said their actions represented the best of Army values.
“The most important thing about the Army is that we know when we put on this uniform that someone is going to be there with you to do everything they can in a bad situation,” Odierno said.
“We depend on that totally, and especially out here in an environment like this, we depend on each other every single day, every time we go out and these two young noncommissioned officers represent that.”