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Old 10-12-2008, 03:02 PM   #1
50cal
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Silver Stars handed out like cookies...

Sgt. to receive Silver Star for heroism



Badly hurt soldier saved life of wounded Afghan police officer
By Gina Cavallaro - [email protected]
Posted : Sunday Oct 12, 2008 13:29:17 EDT

Sgt. Gregory Ruske was seriously injured by gunfire but minutes later risked his life to save an Afghan national police officer, he said, “because he’s one of us, he’s an ally.”
For that, Ruske will receive a Silver Star medal Oct. 23.
The engagement took place April 21 in the village of Afghanya in the Kapisa Province.
Ruske, an Army Reservist, was on his first deployment to Afghanistan and he was attached to the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment working under the 101st Airborne Division.
“We were on a patrol with two ANP officers in an area where our gun trucks couldn’t go so it was a dismounted presence patrol,” said Ruske, 28. Suddenly gunfire erupted from positions in the hills surrounding both sides of the valley.
Two policemen went down immediately. One of them scrambled for cover, but everyone assumed the other man was dead because he stopped moving.
Ruske and his nine squad members began returning fire, taking cover near a walled compound or shooting from a prone position in a field.
“I saw dirt kicking up about three to six inches next to my guys’ heads. They were all pretty close and started to peel back on their own,” Ruske said.
Taking cover in an orchard next to one of the buildings, Ruske and two other soldiers went up to a rooftop to see if they could get a better angle on the enemy who was firing a large-caliber machine gun.
On the roof, they went toward a seven-foot wall with thick foliage on one side. Then Ruske felt something hit him. Seeing blood on his glove, he realized he had been shot.
“I was hit in the hip and it came out my lower back. I threw myself down and rolled off the roof,” he said, describing the wound as the “luckiest shot, it hit nothing but meat, no bones or nerves.”
Once he had applied a dressing to his wound, Ruske saw the second police officer was still alive and attempting to crawl to safety amid puffs of dirt from continual gunfire hitting around him.
“They were still shooting at him. I was like, ‘Man, this is messed up,’” he said.
Ruske and another soldier ran out and, under covering fire, pulled the wounded officer to safety and saved his life.
Ruske stayed in the fight for another 30 minutes and was medically evacuated when additional forces arrived.
During his year in Afghanistan, he said, “I had seen some action; normally, they’d fire and run away. But these guys stayed and kept fighting; it caught me by surprise.”
Fully recovered from his injury, Ruske has returned to his civilian job as a juvenile corrections officer in Denver.



82nd Airborne soldier awarded Silver Star



Sgt. leads platoon in Afghan firefight
By Gina Cavallaro - [email protected]
Posted : Sunday Oct 12, 2008 13:29:12 EDT

Sgt. 1st Class James Brasher and his platoon began getting shot at right after the sun came up.
They had been on point since 4:30 a.m. Dec. 8, securing the perimeter on a 100-foot-high hill at the base of a cell phone tower near Musa Qal’eh in Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold in Helmand Province.
The evening before, Brasher and other soldiers from Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, had maneuvered several miles to the objective.
Down below the hill they occupied, the terrain tapered and gave way to a cultivated area with houses and farm land.
“They were firing from somewhere in there. We tried dropping mortars in to try to disperse them and get them to expose themselves,” said Brasher, 29, platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon.
But the indirect fire wasn’t working well, he said, because there were dozens of shooters firing high-caliber weapons from positions beyond a dry river bed.
So Brasher and his platoon leader, 1st Lt. Joseph McGovern, decided to move in and take the fight down the hill to the enemy.
The battle that followed earned Brasher a Silver Star medal, which he received Oct. 9 during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C.
Brasher led his soldiers through several engagements within a maze of rooms, alleys, courtyards and fields, killing enemy fighters in close-quarters combat.
The platoon was in a firefight against as many as 50 heavily armed fighters, Brasher told Army Times. He was engaged in close combat for about three hours, repeatedly exposing himself to gunfire and using his rifle and fragmentation grenades to demolish aggressive Taliban fighters engaging from as close as 10 feet away.
He kept going, and giving combat instructions, until he was seriously wounded by a gunshot to his right arm that took him out of the fight.
The toll of enemy dead reached 20, and at least three of those were killed by Brasher.
He said he has no regrets about his decision to move his men in on the gunfire.
“If we had just sat there and taken pot shots at them while they took pot shots at us, that would have been very bad for us. We would have ended up getting maneuvered on,” he said. “We went after them and we killed 20 of those sons of *****es. They can’t fight on if they lose that many guys.”
The only thing he might have done differently, he said, was “I might have moved to the left just a hair” because he might have avoided being shot.
“I got a piece of hardware sticking out of my arm, but hopefully by the beginning of next year I can get that stuff all sorted out,” he said.
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