SILVER STAR RECIPIENTS; Congressional Record Vol. 155, No. 71
(Senate - May 11, 2009)

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[Pages S5322-S5324]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                         SILVER STAR RECIPIENTS

  Mr. DORGAN. Madam President, on Thursday I was privileged to host a 
bipartisan lunch of the Senate Democratic and Republican policy 
committees, in honor of a team of Green Berets who earned the Silver 
Star for extraordinary bravery in combat operations in Afghanistan. 
These are true American heroes, and their actions were in the proudest 
traditions of our Armed Forces in general, and of our Special 
Operations forces in particular.
  On April 6, 2008, this team's mission was to capture or kill several 
very high-ranking members of the Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, HIG, militant 
group. The insurgents were in their stronghold, a village perched in 
Nuristan's Shok Valley that is normally accessible only by pack mule.
  During a harrowing, nearly 7-hour battle on a mountainside, this team 
and a few dozen Afghan commandos they had trained took fire from all 
directions. Outnumbered, the Green Berets fought on even after half of 
them were wounded--and managed to kill an estimated 150 to 200 enemy 
fighters.
  For their heroism in battle, 10 members of Operational Detachment 
Alpha 3336 from the 3rd Special Forces Group received the Silver Star, 
one of the highest awards for valor in the U.S. Military. This was the 
highest number of such awards for a single engagement since the Vietnam 
war.
  The men who earned these Silver Stars were CPT Kyle Walton, SFC Scott 
Ford, SSG Luis Morales, SSG Seth Howard, SSG Ronald Shurer, SSG John 
Walding, SSG Dillon Behr, SGT David Sanders, SGT Matthew Williams, and 
SPC Michael Carter.
  I will ask to have printed in the Record a copy of their Silver Star 
citations. I will also ask to have printed in the Record a copy of a 
Washington Post report describing the battle on that Afghan 
mountainside.
  Mr. President, as I mentioned earlier, it was our privilege to honor 
these heroic Green Berets, who were joined at the lunch by SSG Robert 
Gutierrez, Jr., an Air Force special tactics combat controller who 
targeted airstrikes during the mission. For his actions, he was awarded 
the Bronze Star Medal with ``V'' device for valor.
  No words can truly express the depth of our gratitude to these men 
and all the other members of our Armed Forces who have answered their 
country's call.
  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent to have the materials to 
which I referred printed in the Record.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

               [From The Washington Post, Dec. 12, 2008]

        10 Green Berets To Receive Silver Star for Afghan Battle

                          (By Ann Scott Tyson)

       After jumping out of helicopters at daybreak onto jagged, 
     ice-covered rocks and into water at an altitude of 10,000 
     feet, the 12-man Special Forces team scrambled up the steep 
     mountainside toward its target--an insurgent stronghold in 
     northeast Afghanistan.
       ``Our plan,'' Capt. Kyle M. Walton recalled in an 
     interview, ``was to fight downhill.''
       But as the soldiers maneuvered toward a cluster of thick-
     walled mud buildings constructed layer upon layer about 1,000 
     feet farther up the mountain, insurgents quickly manned 
     fighting positions, readying a barrage of fire for the 
     exposed Green Berets.
       A harrowing, nearly seven-hour battle unfolded on that 
     mountainside in Afghanistan's Nuristan province on April 6, 
     as Walton, his team and a few dozen Afghan commandos they had 
     trained took fire from all directions. Outnumbered, the Green 
     Berets fought on even after half of them were wounded--four 
     critically--and managed to subdue an estimated 150 to 200 
     insurgents, according to interviews with several team members 
     and official citations.
       Today, Walton and nine of his teammates from Operational 
     Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd Special Forces Group will 
     receive the Silver Star for their heroism in that battle--the 
     highest number of such awards given to the elite troops for a 
     single engagement since the Vietnam War.
       That chilly morning, Walton's mind was on his team's 
     mission: to capture or kill several members of the Hezb-e-
     Islami Gulbuddin (HIG) militant group in their stronghold, a 
     village perched in Nuristan's Shok Valley that was accessible 
     only by pack mule and so remote that Walton said he believed 
     that no U.S. troops, or Soviet ones before them, had ever 
     been there.
       But as the soldiers, each carrying 60 to 80 pounds of gear, 
     scaled the mountain, they could already spot insurgents 
     running to and fro, they said. As the soldiers drew closer, 
     they saw that many of the mud buildings had holes in the 
     foot-thick walls for snipers. The U.S. troops had maintained 
     an element of surprise until their helicopters turned into 
     the valley, but by now the insurgent leaders entrenched above 
     knew they were the targets, and had alerted their fighters to 
     rally.
       Staff Sgt. Luis Morales of Fredericksburg was the first to 
     see an armed insurgent and opened fire, killing him. But at 
     that moment, the insurgents began blasting away at the 
     American and Afghan troops with machine guns, sniper rifles 
     and rocket-propelled grenades--shooting down on each of the 
     U.S. positions from virtually all sides.
       ``All elements were pinned down from extremely heavy fire 
     from the get-go,'' Walton said. ``It was a coordinated 
     attack.'' The insurgent Afghan fighters knew there was only 
     one route up the valley and ``were able to wait until we were 
     in the most vulnerable position to initiate the ambush,'' 
     said Staff Sgt. Seth E. Howard, the team weapons sergeant.
       Almost immediately, exposed U.S. and Afghan troops were 
     hit. An Afghan interpreter was killed, and Staff Sgt. Dillon 
     Behr was shot in the hip.
       ``We were pretty much in the open, there were no trees to 
     hide behind,'' said Morales, who with Walton pulled Behr back 
     to their position. Morales cut open Behr's fatigues and 
     applied pressure to his bleeding hip, even though Morales 
     himself had been shot in the right thigh. A minute later, 
     Morales was hit again, in the ankle, leaving him struggling 
     to treat himself and his comrade, he said. Absent any cover, 
     Walton moved the body of the dead Afghan interpreter to 
     shield the wounded.
       Farther down the hill in the streambed, Master Sgt. Scott 
     Ford, the team sergeant, was firing an M203 grenade launcher 
     at the fighting positions, he recalled. An Afghan commando 
     fired rocket-propelled grenades at the windows from which 
     they were taking fire, while Howard shot rounds from a rocket 
     launcher and recoilless rifle.
       Ford, of Athens, Ohio, then moved up the mountain amid 
     withering fire to aid Walton at his command position. The 
     ferocity of the attack surprised him, as rounds ricocheted 
     nearby every time he stuck his head out from behind a rock. 
     ``Typically they run out of ammo or start to manage their 
     ammo, but . . . they held a sustained rate of fire for about 
     six hours,'' he said.
       As Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, 
     Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw 
     that the bullet ``basically amputated his right leg right 
     there on the battlefield.''
       Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: ``I literally 
     grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot 
     laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. 
     There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on.'' He 
     put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to 
     see when it was tight enough.
       Then Walding tried to inject himself with morphine but 
     accidentally used the wrong tip of the syringe and put the 
     needle in his thumb, he later recalled. ``My thumb felt 
     great,'' he said wryly, noting that throughout the incident 
     he never lost consciousness. ``My name is John Wayne,'' he 
     said.
       Soon afterward, a round hit Ford in the chest, knocking him 
     back but not penetrating his body armor. A minute later, 
     another bullet went through his left arm and shoulder, 
     hitting the helmet of the medic, Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, 
     who was behind him treating Behr. An insurgent sniper was 
     zeroing in on them.
       Bleeding heavily from the arm, Ford put together a plan to 
     begin removing the wounded, knowing they could hold out only 
     for so long without being overrun. By this time, Air Force 
     jets had begun dropping dozens of munitions on enemy 
     positions precariously close to the Green Berets, including 
     2,000-pound bombs that fell within 350 yards.
       ``I was completely covered in a cloud of black smoke from 
     the explosion,'' said Howard, and Behr was wounded in the 
     intestine by a piece of shrapnel.
       The evacuation plan, Ford said, was that ``every time they 
     dropped another bomb, we would move down another terrace 
     until we basically leapfrogged down the mountain.'' Ford was 
     able to move to lower ground after one bomb hit, but 
     insurgent fire rained down again, pinning the soldiers left 
     behind.
       ``If we went that way, we would have all died,'' said 
     Howard, who was hiding behind 12-inch-high rocks with bullets 
     bouncing off about every 10 seconds. Insurgents again nearly 
     overran the U.S. position, firing down from 25 yards away--so 
     near that the Americans said they could hear their voices. 
     Another 2,000-pound bomb dropped ``danger

[[Page S5323]]

     close,'' Howard said, allowing the soldiers to get away.
       Finally, after hours of fighting, the troops made their way 
     down to the streambed, with those who could still walk 
     carrying the wounded. A medical evacuation helicopter flew 
     in, but the rotors were immediately hit by bullets, so the 
     pilot hovered just long enough to allow the in-flight medic 
     to jump off, then flew away.
       A second helicopter came in but had to land in the middle 
     of the icy, fast-moving stream. ``It took two to three guys 
     to carry each casualty through the river,'' Ford said. ``It 
     was a mad dash to the medevac.'' As they sat on the 
     helicopter, it sustained several rounds of fire, and the 
     pilot was grazed by a bullet.
       By the time the battle ended, the Green Berets and the 
     commandos had suffered 15 wounded and two killed, both 
     Afghans, while an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents were dead, 
     according to an official Army account of the battle. The 
     Special Forces soldiers had nearly run out of ammunition, 
     with each having one to two magazines left, Ford said.
       ``We should not have lived,'' said Walding, reflecting on 
     the battle in a phone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., where 
     he and the nine others are to receive the Silver Stars today. 
     Nine more Green Berets from the 3rd Special Forces Group will 
     also receive Silver Stars for other battles. About 200 U.S. 
     troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have received the 
     Silver Star, the U.S. military's third-highest combat award.
                                  ____


           Master Sergeant Scott E. Ford, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as Team Sergeant, Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 
     3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in support of 
     Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage and 
     commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to his 
     bravery under fire. Master Sergeant Ford exposed himself to 
     insurgent fire in order to provide precision fire against 
     insurgent fighting positions. Master Sergeant Ford, although 
     injured, never stopped leading his men and continued to 
     organize forces to assist his comrades until he was 
     physically incapable of fighting. Master Sergeant Ford's 
     actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military 
     service and reflect great credit upon himself, Combined Joint 
     Special Operations Task Force--Afghanistan, Special 
     Operations Command Central, and the United States Army.

           Staff Sergeant Luis G. Morales, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as Intelligence Sergeant, Special Forces Operational 
     Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in 
     support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage 
     and commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to 
     his bravery under fire. Staff Sergeant Morales, although 
     wounded, heroically ran back into the line of fire to 
     retrieve wounded comrades and administered treatment to the 
     wounded. His selfless acts in the face of enemy fire saved 
     numerous lives. Staff Sergeant Morales' actions are in 
     keeping with the finest traditions of military service and 
     reflect great credit upon himself, Combined Joint Special 
     Operations Task Force--Afghanistan, Special Operations 
     Command Central, and the United States Army.

           Staff Sergeant John W. Walding, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while serving as Senior 
     Communications Sergeant, Special Forces Operational 
     Detachment Alpha, Special Operations Task Force-33, in 
     support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Staff Sergeant Walding 
     acted without regard for his personal safety in leading an 
     assault element up over 500 meters of uphill terrain under 
     intense enemy fire in order to reinforce his detachment's 
     beleaguered position. Once reaching the position, he was 
     critically wounded by sniper fire, but continued to lay down 
     suppressing fire so his unit could organize casualty 
     retrieval. His extreme courage and selfless devotion to his 
     fallow Soldiers in the face of a life-threatening injury 
     inspired the entire assault force over the course of the six-
     hour firefight. Staff Sergeant Walding's actions are in 
     keeping with the finest traditions of military service and 
     reflect great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special 
     Operations Task Force--Afghanistan, and the United States 
     Army.

           Staff Sergeant Seth E. Howard, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as Junior Weapons Sergeant, Special Forces Operational 
     Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in 
     support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage 
     and commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to 
     his bravery under fire. Staff Sergeant Howard bravely 
     defended his comrades and refused to withdraw from his 
     position until everyone was safe. His courageous efforts 
     prevented the position from being overrun on two separate 
     occasions, and his counter sniper fires helped save the lives 
     of his fellow Soldiers and Afghan commandos. Staff Sergeant 
     Howards' actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of 
     military service and reflect great credit upon himself, 
     Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force--Afghanistan, 
     Special Operations Command Central, and the United States 
     Army.

            Specialist Michael D. Carter, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as Combat Cameraman, Special Forces Operational Detachment 
     Alpha 3336. Special Operations Task Force-33, In support of 
     Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage and 
     commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to his 
     bravery under fire. Specialist Carter exposed himself to 
     insurgent fire in order to recover a critically wounded 
     comrade, as well as a Satellite Communications Radio. 
     Specialist Carter's actions aided in the re-establishment of 
     communication with higher headquarters. He also shielded 
     casualties from falling debris and assisted in an extremely 
     dangerous and courageous rescue of more than six casualties. 
     Specialist Carter's actions are in keeping with the finest 
     traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon 
     himself, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force--
     Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and the 
     United States Army.

           Staff Sergeant Dillon L. Behr, United States Army


                             for gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while serving as a 
     communications sergeant, Special Forces Operational 
     Detachment Alpha, Special Operations Task Force-33, in 
     support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After insurgent forces 
     ambushed his combined raid element, Staff Sergeant Behr acted 
     with total disregard for his own safety, holding his position 
     as bullets impacted within inches of him, even after 
     sustaining a life-threatening wound to his leg and later 
     after receiving a second critical wound. Over the course of 
     the more-than-six-hour battle, Staff Sergeant Behr continued 
     to engage and kill multiple enemies until he was no longer 
     physically capable of holding his weapon. His tremendous 
     courage and selfless devotion to his fellow Soldiers inspired 
     his unit to continue to fight against overwhelming odds until 
     relief arrived. Staff Sergeant Behr's actions are in keeping 
     with the finest traditions of military service and reflect 
     great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special 
     Operations Task Force--Afghanistan, and the United States 
     Army.

            Sergeant Matthew O. Williams, United States Army


                             For Gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008. while under intense enemy fire 
     as Weapons Sergeant, Special Forces Operational Detachment 
     Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in support of 
     Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage and 
     commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to his 
     bravery under fire. His actions directly attributed to the 
     suppression of enemy combatants. Sergeant Williams' bravery 
     allowed the patrol to evacuate the other soldiers without 
     further casualties. Sergeant Williams' actions are in keeping 
     with the finest traditions of military service and reflect 
     great credit upon himself. Combined Joint Special Operations 
     Task Force--Afghanistan, Operation Command Central, and the 
     United States Army.

          Staff Sergeant Ronald J. Shurer, United States Army


                             For Gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008 while under intense enemy fire as 
     Senior Medical Sergeant, Special Forces Operational 
     Detachment Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in 
     support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage 
     and commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to 
     his bravery under fire. Staff Sergeant Shurer rendered life 
     saving aid to wounded casualties under his care. His 
     ingenious actions saved the lives of numerous teammates. 
     Staff Sergeant Shurer's actions are in keeping with the 
     finest traditions of military service and reflect great 
     credit upon himself, Combined Joint Special Operations Task 
     Force--Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and 
     the United States Army.

               Captain Kyle M. Walton, United States Army


                             For Gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as the Team Commander, Special Forces Operational Detachment 
     Alpha 3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in support of 
     Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage and 
     commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to his 
     bravery under fire. He continued to maintain effective 
     command and control of five different maneuver elements while 
     repeatedly engaging enemy combatants. His unwavering combat 
     leadership and poise under fire was directly responsible for 
     saving the lives of United States and Afghan Soldiers. 
     Captain Walton's leadership and bravery are in keeping with 
     the finest traditions of military service and reflect great 
     credit upon himself, Combined Joint Special Operations Task 
     Force--Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and 
     the United States Army.

             Sergeant David J. Sanders, United States Army


                             For Gallantry

       in action on 6 April 2008, while under intense enemy fire 
     as Engineer Sergeant, Special Forces Operational Detachment 
     Alpha

[[Page S5324]]

     3336, Special Operations Task Force-33, in support of 
     Operation Enduring Freedom. His personal courage and 
     commitment to mission accomplishment are a testament to his 
     bravery under fire. His heroic efforts to mark insurgent 
     fighting positions with his grenade launcher was crucial for 
     the delivery of on target ordinance that destroyed insurgent 
     fighting positions and made possible the withdrawal of his 
     element. His bravery, poise under fire, determination against 
     a numerically superior force, and concern for his fallen 
     comrades, were integral to the successful medical evacuation 
     and movement of the rest of the force to the extraction 
     point. Sergeant Sanders' actions are in keeping with the 
     finest traditions of military service and reflect great 
     credit upon himself, Combined Joint Special Operations Task 
     Force--Afghanistan, Special Operations Command Central, and 
     the United States Army.

 Citation To Accompany the Award of the Bronze Star Medal (With Valor) 
                        to Robert Gutierrez, Jr.

       Staff Sergeant Robert Gutierrez, Jr., distinguished himself 
     by heroism as a Special Tactics Combat Controller, 21st 
     Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, Combined Joint 
     Special Operations Air Component while engaged in ground 
     combat against an enemy of the United States in Afghanistan 
     on 6 April 2008. On that day, Sergeant Gutierrez was attached 
     to Army Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha 3312 as a 
     Joint Terminal Attack Controller, in support of Operation 
     COMMANDO WRATH. He provided critical Airmanship skills during 
     a violent 6 and a half hour battle against heavily armed and 
     entrenched enemy fighters. While approaching the objective, 
     while climbing near-vertical terrain, the assault force was 
     ambushed by anti-Coalition forces which pinned down the lead 
     team on a 60-foot high rock cliff and produced several 
     friendly casualties. Sergeant Gutierrez coordinated with the 
     engaged element and directed lethal gun, missile, and bomb 
     attacks from AH-64s and F-15Es. Despite these strikes, the 
     attack intensified onto his team's position. Despite being 
     struck twice by 7.62 millimeter bullets in the helmet, 
     Sergeant Gutierrez maintained his calm demeanor and continued 
     to prosecute targets. As the fight continued, the insurgents 
     shifted their efforts toward arriving helicopters and engaged 
     them with heavy fire. Sergeant Gutierrez coordinated with the 
     ground force commander to delay friendly force extraction 
     until the enemy positions could be suppressed. Enabled his 
     systematic control of air power during the fight, all 17 
     friendly casualties were safely evacuated and 40 enemy 
     fighters were killed. By his heroic actions and unselfish 
     dedication to duty, Sergeant Gutierrez has reflected great 
     credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

                          ____________________