Alaska paratrooper awarded for valor
March 10, 2011
- Recognized for actions in Afghanistan combat
- Headed back to Afghanistan this year
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Members of the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment here honored one of their own today during a ceremony at their battalion headquarters for actions on the battlefield during the unit's most recent deployment to Afghanistan.
Twenty-five-year-old Staff Sgt. Jacob Bobo, currently serving as the weapons squad leader for 3rd Platoon, A Company, 3-509th, a native of Russellville, Ala., was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with V Device for Valor by his battalion commander as he stood beside his wife, Kerri Bobo. Guest VIPs included 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division Commander Commander Colonel Morris T. Goins and 4-25th Command Sgt. Maj. Terry D. Gardner.
Lt. Col. Shawn Daniel, 3-509th commander, pinned Bobo with the ARCOM with V device, noting that the award recognized the NCO's selfless actions of making sure his team was moved into safety before himself.
"I personally feel that most awards represent the actions of the men under you that make you look good, but an award with valor is all about you and what you have done for those men," Daniel said.
During a tactical check point, or TCP, in Afghanistan last August, Bobo held a position overwatching his fellow paratroopers when an enemy rocket-propelled-grenade and small-arms attack came to the south of his position.
"The enemy was solely focused on the TCP itself, they hadn't seen me or my men yet since we were up on the ridge," Bobo said. "I got maybe one or two rounds off with the 60-mm mortar tube I had with us before they shifted their fire and were targeting us too."
Exposed on the side of the ridge facing the enemy as they were, Bobo was in an excellent position to attack the enemy, but not to defend against their attacks. He then began to bound his team back to the opposite side of the ridge so they could use its terrain as cover.
"I got my mortar team and moved them back first, my forward observer and I were the last to fall back behind the ridge on the opposing military crest after the other guys had been moved," Bobo said.
The movement to cover wasn't without its own hazards, as enemy RPG rounds were getting closer to hitting their targets.
"Just before we fell back there was this one RPG that hit so close to me and my [forward observer] that I thought we were dead," Bobo said, recalling the magnitude of the concussive blast. "When I looked up and saw that we were both still alive I knew that it was time for us to move."
Shortly after the entire team was behind cover and able to safely engage the enemy with well aimed shots, Bobo's forward observer was able to fire 120-mm rounds on the enemy location, effectively ending the attack.
"When the 120s landed they hit both the enemy location itself as well as the most likely path an enemy retreat would take," Bobo said. "We weren't being shot at anymore after that."
Bobo, and the rest of the 3-509th is training for another deployment to Afghanistan later this year.