FORT LEWIS, Wash. - Members of the 1st Special Forces Group gathered July 16 as the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, and the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command, Brig. Gen. Michael S. Repass, presented Sgt. 1st Class Chad M. Kite and Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Federmann with Silver Stars, honoring each for bravery during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kite and Federmann were awarded the nation's third highest medal for valor for their part in an operation to capture a suspected terrorist leader in the city of Ad Diwaniyah, Iraq June 3, 2007.

Both Kite and Federmann were part of the primary assault force, consisting of 17 Soldiers - a mixture of U.S., coalition, and Iraqi soldiers. A second assault force, consisting of nearly 30 U.S. and coalition soldiers was staged in another part of the city waiting as the quick reaction force.

The team quickly moved into the area where the terrorist was believed to be and assaulted the target building. As the operation unfolded, the team began taking fire from multiple directions.

"As it unfolded, it was chaotic," Kite said. "We were surrounded."

Kite and Federmann, along with two other coalition soldiers, moved 100 meters under hostile fire. Kite suppressed the enemy, while Federmann threw multiple hand grenades, neutralizing the enemy threat. They called the second assault force forward to their location.

As a result, enemy fire increased and one Iraqi soldier was mortally wounded.

The now 40-man force of U.S. and coalition soldiers began taking sniper and rocket propelled grenade fire from a nearby building. A Special Forces Soldier launched a shoulder-fired missile at the building from which the sniper and RPG fire were originating. However, despite the missile strike, the enemy sniper and RPG fire from the building did not stop. A coalition sniper fired from a nearby rooftop at the enemy forces, but could not eliminate the threat. U.S. aircraft could not attack the building because of the close proximity to civilian homes.

Kite and Federmann again moved under heavy fire to engage the enemy.

Kite fired at the enemy, enabling Federmann to fire multiple high explosive rounds from his M-79 grenade launcher. Federmann then launched a smoke grenade onto the rooftop, marking the building for coalition helicopters to place precise machine gun fire into the building, destroying the remaining enemy presence.

After moving back to the assault force, Kite and Federmann recognized that insurgent forces had moved again and taken positions on the rooftop of a building less than 15 meters away. The surrounding insurgent forces moved to close the distance with the coalition forces. Realizing the deadly threat developing, Kite suppressed the rooftops and intersection, while Federman fired his M-4 carbine and threw multiple grenades at both locations, again neutralizing the threat.

At this point, the assault force began regrouping to leave the area. By then, the force had suffered two casualties, including a coalition member shot in the chest who continued to fight off the enemy for more than two hours, and one Iraqi soldier killed in action.

The force later pulled out of the enemy stronghold. Under heavy fire, the assault force withdrew from the area returning fire from the sides of their vehicles. During withdrawal from the target area, Federmann was wounded in the arm from a bullet fragment.

"Sergeants Kite and Federmann displayed exceptional teamwork and uncommon valor over the course of a four-hour engagement while outnumbered by enemy insurgents," said Col. Eric P. Wendt, 1st Special Forces Group commander. "Their actions define the spirit of the Silver Star."

Even though both men were in a 360-degree fight, they say the No. 1 priority for them was making sure everyone made it home.

"We disrupted the terrorists on their turf," Federmann said. "Everyone did what they were supposed to do to make it out alive - that's the best part."

This story appeared in Fort Lewis' Northwest Guardian.