KABUL, Afghanistan - U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey Jr. presented awards to two Soldiers and a Department of the Army civilian during a ceremony Oct. 11 at Camp Eggers.

The U.S. Army's highest ranking general presented awards to three members serving with NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan including: Army Staff Sgt. Monse Gardea; Army Spc. Garland Brown III; and Maxwell Kannen, the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command liaison to NTM-A. Casey also presented a commander's coin to Romanian Lt. Col. Mihai Ciobanca for his contributions to NTM-A.

The recipients knew they were going to receive an award but were shocked to learn a day prior to the event that General Casey was going to be the presenter.

"It was awesome. This is probably one of the biggest days not just in my Army career but in my life," said Gardea, a native of San Diego, Calif. and deployed from Fort Bliss, Texas. Gardea received the Bronze Star for his combat leadership and dedication to the mission.

"The only other days that can top this are when I got married and when my kids were born," he said. "Receiving the Bronze Star and having it pinned on by General Casey made this perfect. I don't see me topping this moment ever."

Brown, who earned the Combat Action Badge while in a convoy that came under enemy fire, said, "It's a great honor to be awarded by the highest ranking general in the Army.

"It's not every day a Soldier will receive the Combat Action Badge from the Chief of Staff of the Army himself," said Brown, a native of Bowling Green, Ohio, and deployed from Fort Sill, Okla.

A humble Kannen, who was awarded the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, said, "It doesn't seem fair to be here next to (the other recipients). I'm just an office guy."

Kannen, a native of Bowling Green, Ohio, and deployed from Fort Belvoir, Va., may not have seen combat but according to his citation, "Kannen was pivotal in the command's ability to fully obligate $2.9 billion of Fiscal Year 2009 Supplemental Budget, which was essential in providing (the Afghanistan National Security Force) with critical defense articles, services and training."

After bestowing the awards upon the recipients, Casey turned toward the crowd to recognize everyone's hard work.

"The work that you do here will contribute to our long term successes," said Casey.

Even though the general didn't have much time to spend with the troops at Camp Eggers he said, "It's always great for me to come and recognize the Soldiers."

Casey's visit was an instant morale booster for the troops and confirmed that all of the sacrifices being made for the mission are paying dividends.

"General Casey's presence here today and his comments to our Soldiers and civilians are indicative of the importance he and the rest of the U.S. Army place on manning, resourcing and supporting NTM-A's mission to develop an enduring and self sustaining Afghan National Security Force," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, NTM-A commander.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16