SF
Brig. Gen. Steven W. Duff, left, USASFC deputy CG, pins a Bronze Star Medal with V device on Master Sgt. Byrnice Fernandez during a 1st SFG valor award ceremony Feb. 11 at Evergreen Theater on JBLM.

The Army recognized members of 1st Special Forces Group for uncommon valor during
a medal award ceremony Feb. 11.
Green Berets from Special Operations Task Force 12 and Advanced Operating Base 1310 received nine Bronze Star medals for valor, nine Army Commendation medals for valor and two Purple Hearts.
Commander Col. Francis Beaudette said the Soldiers' actions went well above the call of duty.
"They didn't win anything or (get) awarded something because of (just) who they are," Beaudette said. "I have seen incredible courage and heroism routinely displayed in battlefield challenges."
The combat environment in Afghanistan is full of peril, he said. Reacting to those perils and successfully completing the mission is a part of daily life.
"It is fundamentally what every Green Beret expects of himself and those around him, day in and day out," Beaudette said. "It's game on all the time, as we say downrange."
Every Special Forces team member knows the inherent dangers and puts his life on the line, he said.
"So to me, it's even that much more incredible and impressive that we have those who stand out from even that incredible standard, and it's those ... men we are recognizing today," Beaudette said.
The sacrifices and valor of the Soldiers receiving medals are unique in their selflessness and measure, he said.
Five of the Bronze Star Medal recipients came from the same engagement with the enemy in a small village in Afghanistan.
Bronze Star Medal recipient Capt. Ben Johnson said receiving the medal pales in comparison to knowing he did his job well.
"Just getting all my guys out of there alive, getting everyone out safely, that's what's important to me," Johnson said.
With one of his team members wounded, it became important to suppress enemy and do it quickly, he said.
"Knowing I got everyone back home was important," Johnson said.
Former Team Leader Capt. Phil Kornachuk said it was a brutal fight that lasted for hours.
"There were two fights, one on recon patrol behind what happened at an enemy headquarters building and the tunnels underneath it," Kornachuk said. "Meanwhile, there were additional people coming from the outside."
Army intelligence later estimated the Special Forces teams went up against 300 Taliban fighters, he said.
"The main thing was to keep from getting surrounded and cut off," Kornachuk said. Sergeant 1st Class Corey Richardson was with some commandos up on some high ground in a sniper position and held off between 50 to 100 enemy fighters, he said.
"Everyone up in his position got wounded one way or another and he wouldn't come down," Kornachuk said. "We tried to pull him back and he said if he comes down 'you guys are going to get cut off. I gotta stay here.'"

Rick Wood: rick.wood@nwguardian.com

Page last updated Fri October 7th, 2011 at 18:18