JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (USASOC News Service, May 8, 2015) -- The explosion they heard Aug. 28, 2013, was a nearly-2000 lb. vehicle-borne IED that shook Forward Operating Base Ghazni in Afghanistan and as the smoke cleared, insurgents dressed in Afghan National Army uniforms could be seen entering the newly-created hole in the perimeter of the base.
By that time, several Green Berets from 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) were already on their way, discovering several well-armed insurgents had already made their way into the base and were beginning to open fire.
Driving in a truck to the scene, they came face-to-face with one on the insurgents as he reloaded his AK-47 rifle.
One operator remembers making eye contact with one of the attackers just before he started firing bullets into the truck. At that moment, Sgt. 1st Class Earl Plumlee leapt from the truck and began firing his pistol at the enemy.
Another insurgent began firing on Plumlee from nearby. He fired a single round in the attacker's chest, resulting in a large explosion.
"That's when I became aware that there were suicide vests on the fighters," he said.
The fight instantly became more deadly, as the Green Berets were taking more and more small-arms fire while worrying about the possibility of a suicide vest going off near them.
The group of operators continued to engage the insurgents, making their way through bullets flying and vests exploding, when an insurgent began to attack them from the rear.
After the group quickly dispatching the enemy, Plumlee saw a downed U.S. Soldier next to the enemy, ran to him, pulled him to safety and began first-aid procedures, applying multiple tourniquets. He then directed a civilian and a U.S. Soldier to load the wounded Soldier on a vehicle and evacuate him to the Forward Surgical Team unit on base.
Plumlee then took charge of three coalition Soldiers and conducted a methodical search of the surrounding areas to ensure no additional insurgents remained.
"The strongest emotion I had from that day was the last time we were pushing down and had really gotten organized we were moving as a really aggressive, synced up stack, moving right into the chaos," Plumlee said. "It was probably the proudest moment of my career, just to be with those guys, at that time, on that day was just awesome."
Nearly two years later, Plumlee was awarded the Silver Star Medal by Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dahl, I Corps Deputy Commanding General, for his actions that day during a ceremony at the 1st SFG (A) Memorial Wall, May 1.
The actions that day resulted in more than 55 awards, including Plumlee's Silver Star. More important, were the hundreds of lives saved by 1st SFG (A) Green Berets
"It's no exaggeration when I say they saved FOB Ghazni," said Maj. K, a Special Forces Soldier that was there that day. "If they would have arrived 10 seconds later than they did, the insurgents would have been in the more densely populated part of FOB Ghazni."
"They, on their own accord, moved to the sound of the guns, they moved to the breach point and they destroyed the enemy," he added.
"I realize that I am representing a number of general officers throughout the military who would prefer to be officiating this ceremony if they could be here," said Dahl.
"It was Sgt. Plumlee that was there at that time and place, and it was he who had the opportunity to demonstrate uncommon gallantry, and it is he we are recognizing today with a well-deserved silver star," he continued. "There is nothing more that I can say that will improve upon a narrative of events that will be read shortly. To Sgt. 1st Class Plumlee congrats on this level of recognition, you certainly deserve it."