Retired Army colonel from Calif. receives 3rd Bronze Star
By MIKE HARRIS | Ventura County Star, Calif. | Published: August 5, 2017
SIMI VALLEY, Calif. (Tribune News Service) — Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Martin Spann is a decorated veteran, having been awarded two Bronze Stars for meritorious service and a Purple Heart for wounds while deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2008.
On Friday, the Simi Valley resident became even more decorated.
Spann, 61, received his third Bronze Star in a ceremony at the Museum of Military History at the Simi Valley Town Center mall. Unlike the first two, which were for merit, this one was for the higher honor of valor.
"In Iraq, if you look at the time period from 2003 all the way to when we left eight years later, there were about 99,000 Bronze Stars awarded for merit. There were only about 2,400 awarded for valor," Spann said in an interview at the ceremony.
"So a very small percentage are awarded for valor," which he said is the fourth-highest military award behind the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service or Navy Cross and the Silver Star.
Spann received his Bronze Star for valor for heroism in Iraq on March 11, 2005.
Serving as a combat adviser to Iraqi commandos in Samarra, Spann rushed to the aid of a seriously wounded member of the Iraqi security forces despite being under fire from enemy combatants, according to his Bronze Star certificate. After rendering first aid, he continued advancing alone, still under intense fire.
Maneuvering to within feet of the insurgents' position, Spann shot and wounded one of them and forced the surrender of a second, thus eliminating the threat to the Iraqi security forces, the certificate says.
"Lieutenant Colonel Spann's heroic actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the United States Army," the certificate states.
Spann, dressed in uniform, said he was "very proud" to receive his latest Bronze Star.
"This is an important day for me," he said. "It's an important day for my family also. You know, for all the time I spent over there, you got to have that support system, and that's your wife and kids, so I'm happy to have them here today."
Besides his spouse, Alexa, daughter Franchesca, 19, and son Ryan, 16, the ceremony was also attended by about 100 others. They included military veterans, members of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 in Simi Valley, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Lancaster), a veteran whose district includes most of Simi Valley, and Simi Valley Councilmen Mike Judge, also a veteran, and Keith Mashburn.
Spann's wife said the family was "terrifically proud of my husband and the kids' dad. He has sacrificed a lot for this country. And I really think our kids have sacrificed a lot, too. During his deployments, there were missed birthdays, missed holidays, missed Christmas. But it's made them stronger. And it's really made our family stronger.
"And we're just happy that my husband was awarded a Bronze Star for valor," she said. "And nothing happened to him. I mean, he has a Purple Heart (for being wounded). But he came home.
"We're extremely proud of all the veterans here," she added.
Knight, who spoke at the ceremony, said in an interview that "Col. Spann did something that was extremely heroic. He saved lives and it takes a special person to run into a field of fire and save somebody's life and he did it I'm sure without a second thought.
"We love to be a part of making sure that veterans are receiving the medals that they earned," Knight added.
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