Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cody Presents Awards, Re-enlists Soldiers at Camp Victory

Soldiers and two Airmen re-enlist at a combined awards and re-enlistment ceremony at Al Faw Palace, Camp Victory, Feb. 11. (Photo by Sgt. Michael Connors)

By Spc. Emily J. Wilsoncroft
Multi-National Division – Center

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq – Army vice chief of staff, Gen. Dick Cody, visited Camp Victory, Feb. 11, to present awards to nine Multi-National Division – Center Soldiers and to re-enlist 206 Soldiers and two Airmen.

“Nothing touches me more than being able to pin on combat valorous awards and to re-enlist Soldiers in a combat zone,” Cody said. “I consider it an honor and a privilege.”

The ceremony, which was held in Al Faw palace, included service members from all areas of MND-C’s battle space.

Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, MND-C commander, addressed the Soldiers briefly.

“As I tell you all the time, you have a choice as an adult: you can either read history or you can make history,” he said, “and right here, right now, we’re making history.

“There are heroes among us,” he continued. “Three of you are going to be awarded the Silver Star, four of you the Bronze Star Medal with a V device, and two of you the Purple Heart.”

Before presenting the awards, Cody took a few moments to talk about the character of the Soldiers receiving them.

“We all need to reflect, as these young Soldiers come forward who earned these Silver Stars and Bronze Stars and Purple Hearts – they’re part of us,” he said.

“They’ve taken that same oath of office. They follow our Warrior Ethos of ‘Mission first, I’ll never quit, I’ll never accept defeat, and I’ll never leave a fallen comrade.’ They didn’t want to earn these awards, no one does, but in combat, when the situation dictated, they put their own life behind that of their brothers or sisters, and went forward and did these valorous acts.”

The Soldiers receiving the Silver Star were 1st Lt. Ross C. Pixler and Staff Sgt. John J. Zamarripa, both of Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Sgt. 1st Class. Jose R. Rodriguez, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div.

Soldiers receiving the Bronze Star Medal with Valor were Staff Sgt. Paul McQuown and Sgt. Donald Dedmon, both of Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Inf. Div.; Sgt. Michael D. Clark, Co. B, 3-69 Armor; and Spc. Jacob I. Schryver, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-69 Armor.

The two Soldiers awarded the Purple Heart were Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Mills, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Inf. Div.; and Sgt. Allanroy Froa, Company F, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.

“This is an award for every single one of the Soldiers who were out there and who can’t come home,” Pixler said of his Silver Star.

Rodriguez shared his sentiments.

“I think everybody who was (at the scene of the incident) should have received some kind of award,” he said. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have done the things I did, and they would have done exactly the same things for me; they did a couple of times.

“If I had my way, everybody from the unit would be here, getting either the same or even better awards than me,” he added. “We gotta look out for each other; it’s a family.”

Preparing to administer the oath of enlistment, Cody turned his attention to the 208 faces before him.

“For those of you who are re-enlisting in a combat zone: some cynics would say you’re doing it for the tax-free money,” he said. “But I’ve been around Soldiers too long. Soldiers don’t re-enlist in a combat zone for dollars. They re-enlist because they want to stay with their outfit. They re-enlist because they trust each other, and they don’t want to leave their brothers- and sisters-in-arms. They re-enlist because they know they’re making a difference.

In the generations to come, Cody added, many people will think back on the Global War on Terrorism and wonder if they contributed enough to its effort.

“You’ll never have to worry about that,” he told the Soldiers and Airmen. “You’ll know you made a difference. And each one of you will wear the distinct combat patch of your division. You’ll be forever known as veterans of the strongest army in the world. I’m damn proud of you.”

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