Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey
October 27, 2009
By USASOC PAO
CIVIL Affairs Team 745 was stationed at Fire Base Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, with special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, and members of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police.
On Nov. 2, 2007, the teams and their Afghan counterparts left the firebase to visit the village of Sarsina to conduct medical capabilities mission as well as a humanitarian aid drop.
Once the group arrived at the village, they discovered it had been evacuated, and the Taliban was entrenched into several fighting positions in an attempt to ambush coalition forces in the area.
Only three families from the village came in for medical treatment. The families told the Soldiers the Taliban made the other people leave, but they had nowhere to go.
The team knew that it was only a matter of time before they would find themselves in the midst of a firefight.
As expected, the teams were engaged by 300 Taliban fighters. Staff Sgt. Drew Kimmey was the gunner atop his team's vehicle. According to Army documents, after an hour of fighting, two vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight after being disabled. This left the ground forces commander to the front of the U.S. lines and in jeopardy of being overrun.
At that point, Capt. Stephen Ward, the team leader for 745, radioed to the ground forces commander (who was pinned down in a vulnerable building), that they were on their way.
"We went because we were the closest truck to do anything about it, and the others were busy providing cover," said Ward. However, the team's vehicle crashed into an enemy fighting position and became immobile.
Kimmey, the gunner, continued to engage enemy forces.
"First, I didn't notice incoming fire. I was thinking that I hoped the guys in front of me didn't stand up, Capt. (Lavern) Theis was against the wall right under my gun and there was no room for error," recalls Kimmey. "The other thing was that it was really irritating that the truck was at a weird angle in the ditch and it was a real pain to traverse the gun without changing elevation."
Ward exited the vehicle and directed his team to dismount and move to cover. Kimmey remained in the turret, providing cover for the team and allowing them to reach the ground forces commander. He stayed even though he knew the enemy was setting up mortar positions to attack his truck.
"The difference was Kimmey was able to keep them from overrunning us with the .50 cal. and in the process, he was drawing a majority of the enemy fire," said Ward, who noted the enemy was about 50 to 100 meters away at that point.
Team 745 moved to the ground commander's position, and helped recover the commander and the casualties. All of this was done, according to statements taken after the firefight, while under continual, accurate, effective enemy fire.
Since team 745's vehicle was immobile, it was stripped of all sensitive equipment and its gun was dismantled to prevent the enemy from obtaining an additional weapon. Once team 745 sterilized their truck, they had no choice but to run beside the Special Forces vehicle-using it as cover-until they reached safety, because there was no room for them on the truck.
Lieutenant Gen. John F. Mulholland, U.S. Army Special Operations Command commanding general, presented Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey with a Silver Star for gallantry in action, performed with marked distinction. Kimmey was the first active-duty civil affairs specialist to receive the award.
"I believe the indirect approach that civil affairs uses is what is going to win the war." Kimmey explains. "What I love about civil affairs is that I have the opportunity to work with unbelievably intelligent individuals that truly believe in what they are doing and work hard to further our mission."
He says that being a member of the special operations community allows him to deploy to sensitive, remote, and dangerous areas that are right in the middle of extremist-influenced territory.
"We are an all-volunteer force and everyone that has stayed in or entered into service knew what they were signing up for. No one in their right mind would make that commitment without believing that we are making a difference."