By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJuly 9, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas- For U.S. infantrymen, the opportunity to recognize foreign military officers with the Order of Saint Maurice is rare.
For senior leaders in the 1st Cavalry Division, this uncommon opportunity came when they bestowed the honor on British Army Maj. John Russell, chief of operations, 1st Cav. Div., who hails from Chalford, Gloucestershire, England, at the division's headquarters July 3.
The order, which is awarded by the National Infantry Association, an honorary military society of the United States infantry branch, recognizes contributions in support of the U.S. infantry community and their operations.
There are five levels at which the award is given: Primicerius or the highest level at which someone has made a significant and lasting impact on the infantry; Centurion, for an outstanding contribution to the Infantry; Legionnaire for those who are not in the infantry branch; Peregrinus for foreign military personnel, and Civis for civilians.
Russell, who is an infantry officer, was awarded the Peregrinus-level honor, which includes a medallion and a numbered citation, denoting how many of the awards have been issued.
"He's only the 144th foreign Soldier to be recognized with one of these, which is actually pretty impressive," said Los Angeles native Sgt. Maj. Richard Jones, operations sergeant major, 1st Cav. Div.
Jones, a member of the National Infantry Association, nominated Russell for the award. Jones said that Russell, who he hails as an 'outstanding officer,' made many major contributions to the U.S. infantry while serving with the 1st Cavalry Division since July 2006 to include his 18-months in combat.
Operating in a joint/interagency, multi-national environment during Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 06-08, Russell coordinated all actions for the Multi-National Division-Baghdad. While working all aspects of the division's operations, his efforts involved planning for 80,000 personnel, 120 aircraft, 5,000 combat vehicles and four Iraqi Security Divisions.
According to Round Rock, Texas native Master Sgt. Clifford Lindell, noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, Russell's outstanding job as the division's CHOP led to him garnering the Order of St. Maurice.
"He was particularly adept at coordinating assets to support those in need," said Lindell during the Order of St. Maurice ceremony. "He is definitely a true Soldier's Soldier."
"The National Infantry Association is honoring one of their own and this is really awesome," added Lindell, who worked side by side everyday with Russell. "He's extremely deserving of the honor, and I appreciate his tact and his candor. He always has the Soldiers' welfare in mind."
Russell said he was quite touched by receiving the honor from his infantry peers.
"Thank you very much, I hold this very dear to my heart and I'm very grateful for this as we don't have an association for the infantry in England," said Russell, while explaining that he has been in the infantry since beginning his military career. "I came to America following a lot of great officers before me, and I hope to emulate not just British officers but American officers as well."
"To join with the American infantry (in receiving the order of St. Maurice) has been a great honor," added Russell. "I hope to always continue expanding the virtues we (as Soldiers) should live up to. It has been my absolute pleasure to serve alongside American Soldiers over the last two years. It's my professional pleasure to be a part of this professional Army."
Besides the Order of St. Maurice, Russell was also awarded the Bronze Star Medal earlier this year for his service during OIF Rotation 06-08.