HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, Ga. (May 5, 2015) -- Two Rangers, assigned to 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were awarded the nation's third highest honor for their heroic actions at a battalion awards ceremony at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., April 29.
Staff Sgt. James Jones, a Ranger squad leader, and Sgt. Derek Anderson, a Ranger team leader, both with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, were awarded the Silver Star Medal for their actions during an assault against an armed enemy in Nangahar province, Afghanistan, Dec. 2, 2014.
"Today we celebrate [the Warrior Ethos], along with the values of courage and valor," said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, Army vice chief of staff. "The example this unit sets, and the expertise the Ranger Regiment builds and carries to the rest of the force, is a large part of what makes us the greatest fighting force in the world."
Jones and Anderson maneuvered on multiple enemy fighting positions during a sustained six-hour direct fire engagement, resulting in the elimination of more than 25 enemy combatants, according to the official citation. Both Rangers, without regard for their own personal safety, placed themselves in direct fire and imminent danger to move a wounded Ranger to safety. They undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous Rangers and directly contributed to the success of the joint task force.
"Anybody in this battalion or in this regiment would do the exact same thing. I just happened to be the one standing there. We all work hard, train hard ... we all do the same thing," Anderson said. "We just do the job for the guys to our left and right. I don't think anyone here really wants to be put in the spotlight."
In addition, two Rangers received Bronze Star Medals with valor, two Rangers received the Joint Service Commendation Medal with valor and one Ranger received the Purple Heart Medal.
First Battalion received the Meritorious Unit Citation and Bravo Company received the Valorous Unit Award for actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, May 15 - Aug. 28, 2011.
"During Summer 2011, the International Security Assistance Force surge in Afghanistan was at its peak, and we were in the process of eradicating the Taliban from historic strongholds," Allyn said. "The Warriors of 1st Ranger Battalion delivered a decisive role. You fought in places that will forever resound in Ranger lore. Names like Khost, Paktika and Nangarhar will hold a hallowed place in the hearts and souls of all veterans of the Afghanistan campaign."
Allyn went on to praise the actions of the 1st Battalion.
"Nowhere is the discipline, endurance, expertise and confidence more apparent than in the 1st Ranger Battalion, and it's reflected in the eyes of every Ranger in this formation," Allyn said. "Knowing that you serve with our nation's best gives you the courage to always do your duty ... and triumph over fear. And that courage was on full display during the summer of 2011."
1st Battalion supported the surge into Afghanistan, May 15-August 28, 2011, while conducting continuous combat operations, including time sensitive raids and deliberate movement to contact operations while in enemy held terrain out of reach by other friendly forces.
Bravo Company also received the Valorous Unit Award for its extraordinary heroism, combat achievement, and unwavering fidelity while executing numerous and diverse missions, both acknowledged and classified during Operating Enduring Freedom, May 15-Aug. 28, 2011.
These awards did not come without a price.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy Katzenberger was killed, June 14, 2011, and Sgt. Alessandro Plutino was killed, Aug. 8, 2011, in Paktika province, Afghanistan.
"... We honor the sacrifice of all who have served before them, especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice ... and laid down their lives in defense of the values we unwavering pursue, and the freedom our service guarantees."
Charlie Company received the Valorous Unit Award for extraordinary heroism, combat achievement and conspicuous gallantry while executing combat operations in support of a named operation, Nov. 14 - 16, 2010. The Rangers conducted a deliberate movement to contact in enemy held terrain. The collective acts of heroism demonstrated by these Rangers contributed significantly to the success of the United States and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush said, "We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail."
"This is an inspiring quote ... but the American resolve President George W. Bush referred to is not new, and it would have been equally powerful had he simply recited: 'Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor,'" Allyn said. "Your actions make me prouder than ever to be a Ranger and a veteran of this historic outfit. God bless you, our great supporting Ranger Families, and all of our heroes serving near and far ... Rangers lead the way!"