'Real Heroes' award
Sergeant 1st Class Ismael Iban accepts his Red Cross Real Heroes Award Jan. 23 at the Bicentennial Pavillion for his actions in Iraq while with 5th Btn., 20th Inf., which resulted in a Silver Star. Iban is now in 1st Btn., 38th Inf.

FORT LEWIS, wash. - Though a man of few words at the podium, it was Sgt. 1st Class Ismael Iban-Cordero's orders and actions near Taji, Iraq nearly two years ago that resulted in the successful evacuation of 21 wounded American troops injured during an attack at the Tarmiya Joint Security Station.

His actions as platoon leader of 3rd Platoon, C Company, 52nd Infantry Regiment, the 3rd Brigade anti-tank company, earned him a Silver Star, pinned exactly a year ago today. It also led to him being named the Red Cross Rainier Chapter Military Real Hero, an honor bestowed upon him Jan. 23 at the Bicentennial Pavilion in Tacoma during the 15th Annual Real Heroes Breakfast.

Maria Arcega-Dunn of Fox News Q13 read Iban's Silver Star citation, which described how Iban and his platoon responded to a request for support from D Co. 2nd Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment after being hit by a suicide vehicle borne IED.

Upon arriving at the scene, Iban and his troops triaged the wounded while also establishing a defensive perimeter.

Iban and his troops exposed themselves to enemy fire as they rounded up the injured Soldiers, loaded them into Strykers and moved back to a helicopter landing zone, which came under attack once they got there.

Iban and his Soldiers were forced to, once again, expose themselves to enemy fire and carry nine injured Soldiers 100 meters to the helicopters.

This was repeated several times until all 21 injured 2-8 Cav. Soldiers were rescued from the rubble of what was the Tarmiya JSS.
"I'm certainly honored and pleased to be able to present this (award) to Sgt. 1st Class Iban. You heard the story ,and it certainly reads like a novel, if not a movie; it's clearly the stuff of which heroes are made," said award presenter George Kargel of TriWest Healthcare Alliance. "To come in and multitask to engage the enemy, secure the area, establish a perimeter, triage the folks that were injured there and then, in (his commander's) words, 'pursue and neutralize the enemy,' and then call in air medevac and remove the casualties. It's no wonder that he is a highly-prized Soldier and sought after in his command to continue that leadership."

As Kargel finished his introduction, Iban stepped to the podium and received his award amid a standing ovation, the only one of the morning, from a banquet room full of people.

"I just want to say thank you to the American Red Cross for giving me this award, for all their services and the help they provide the needy," said Iban as he stood on the stage. "Thank you."

After the conclusion of the morning's presentations, Iban, who is now in 1st Battalion, 38th Infantry Regiment, said the real heroes of the Tarmiya incident were his troopers.

"I've never been with a group of men and Soldiers who were that outstanding. I had a perfect group that time because nobody cared about their own life. It was about helping those guys there," Iban said. "This award, I don't see it like it's mine because I did not do this by myself. The mission got accomplished because of my Soldiers. They did it, not me. I just (gave) the right guidance, telling them what to do, but they did it."

Iban said the standing ovation he received was unlike anything he has experienced before, but again deflected praise to his Soldiers.

"That was awesome. I've never been recognized for something before (like that). It was pretty awesome," he said. "I wish all my boys were here so they could feel the same appreciation."

Matt Smith is a reporter with Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.

Page last updated Fri January 30th, 2009 at 13:39