SMA presents Soldier's Medal to Fort Leonard Wood Soldier
Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler poses for a photo with Staff Sgt. Isaac Diaz and his spouse, Maggie, after a ceremony in which Chandler presented Diaz with the Soldier's Medal at the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence on Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., April 23, 2014. Diaz earned the medal for throwing a Soldier out of a live-grenade-training bay and protecting him with his body from the blast, after the Soldier dropped the grenade.

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (April 23, 2014) -- When Staff Sgt. Isaac Diaz threw a Soldier out of a live-grenade-training bay and protected him with his body from the blast, he said he was just doing what any of his training range cadre would do -- put the Soldier's welfare before their own.

Little did Diaz know that his heroic deed would earn him the Soldier's Medal, and that he would receive it from the sergeant major of the Army.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler presented Diaz with the medal during his visit to Fort Leonard Wood's Maneuver Support Center of Excellence, today.

"I'll bet it was a little bit of a surprise when you saw that grenade. Well done," remarked Chandler, as he pinned on the medal and shook hands with Diaz.

Diaz, assigned to the Combat Training Company, 43rd Adjutant General Battalion, recalled what began as a normal training day on Nov. 12, 2013. He and other cadre members thoroughly went over all actions in the mock bay, including what to do in case of live grenade inside and outside of the bay.

Once at the live bay, all was going well until Diaz noticed a Soldier dropped a live grenade.

"I noticed the Soldier froze," Diaz said and noted that there are about 3-5 seconds after the pin is pulled until the explosion. "At that point, I grabbed him and took him out of the bay and jumped on top of him to protect him from the blast."

After the blast that blew out the concrete slab wall, Diaz said the Soldier was shocked and stunned. Neither he nor anyone else was injured.

Training continued with the Soldier and the rest of the group.

"There is no leeway," said Diaz. "It is a mandatory requirement for graduation. We have to continue."

"All the range cadre would react the same in the same scenario," Diaz added. "They would do the same, but this just happened to me. We always have to place the Soldiers' needs above our own."

Diaz said it was an honor to have the medal presented by the Sergeant Major of the Army.

"Just as receiving the medal, it was totally unexpected," Diaz said. "It was awesome. This is an occasion that will always be one of the special moments in my life and career."

Page last updated Tue June 3rd, 2014 at 15:51