OTF Soldier Story for December 20, 2010 - Sgt. 1st Class Eric Mehall
Current Unit: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Current Position: S-3 Operations Noncommissioned Officer In Charge
Component: Active Army
Current Location: Fort Hood, Texas
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
Years of Service: 15
Displaying the selflessness of his leadership and the bond between Soldiers that overcomes regimental lines, on April 9, 2004, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Mehall chose to lead his platoon on a rescue mission to aid a fuel convoy that had been ambushed by enemy insurgents. Local units had already been engaging Iraqi insurgents for several days and had suffered heavy casualties, but Mehall knew that his platoon had a responsibility to aid their fellow Soldiers despite the known risks.
Over the next several hours, the platoon was able to make several trips from their Forward Operating Base to the ambush site to evacuate their comrades, and through Mehall’s leadership and his platoon’s perseverance, the rescue mission was successful in saving the lives of several American Soldiers. For Mehall’s gallant actions that day as well as his loyalty to his fellow comrades, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
What few people know is that Mehall’s devotion to his fellow Soldiers and his job as a Noncommissioned Officer extends into every area of the Soldier’s life. Throughout his 15-year career in the Army, he has willingly made many personal sacrifices to serve his country. Last year, Mehall and his wife, a captain in the Army, both chose to deploy to Iraq, despite the hardship of leaving behind their newborn son.
“[My wife] actually deployed a week before I did, so when I deployed right after her, my mom had to take care of our son, who was five months old at the time,” he said, adding that since she was stationed in Mosul while he served in Baghdad, they were unable to see each other during the deployment.
During his most recent deployment to Iraq in 2009-2010, he served as a tank platoon sergeant and was responsible for leading 15 Soldiers and managing four tanks, four Humvees, and four Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. Mehall and his platoon worked alongside members of the Iraqi Army and Police Forces to conduct missions. Despite language and cultural barriers, Mehall and his unit were able to conduct many successful missions in partnership with the Iraqi Army and Police Forces.
“I can remember doing house searches – starting at one or two in the morning – where you’re waking up Iraqi civilians in the middle of the night. They were hospitable even then. Here we are in full combat gear with weapons and they’re offering us tea,” he said.
Now back stateside, Mehall is currently stationed at Fort Hood, Texas and serves as a Battalion Operations Noncommissioned Officer-in-Charge. Both Mehall and his wife will deploy again in 2011, although they will once again deploy at separate times.
Despite the sacrifices and obstacles Mehall has been asked to make as a Soldier, it is a job he is willing to do.
“Working with the Soldiers in the Army who volunteer to take on these hardships and protect the American way of life makes me proud to be a Soldier,” he said.
Mehall looks forward to participating in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas. The game will air on Jan. 8, 2011, at noon on NBC. For more information about the game, visit www.goarmy.com.