By Sgt. Lynne SteelyFebruary 2, 2007
Labor Day 2005 will be a day to remember for three Soldiers who were awarded medals that day for risking their lives to rescue four Iraqi National Guard members during an insurgent attack earlier this year.
Staff Sgt. Javier Echols and Sgts. Matthew Acosta and Zachariah Collett of the 108th Military Police Company from Fort Bragg, N.C. received the medals from Multi-National Corps-Iraq Commander Lt. Gen. John R. Vines in a ceremony here Sept. 5.
On the morning of April 30, Echols, Acosta and Collett, were patrolling a main supply route as part of squad Warlord 11 when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby. A transport vehicle filled with Iraqi National Guard Soldiers was hit by the blast.
Echols, who received the Silver Star for his bravery, led his team in the rescue of four ING Soldiers who were wounded in the explosion. Exposed to dangerous crossfire between insurgents and ING Soldiers, the trio moved the wounded to safety and administered medical aid until an evacuation helicopter arrived on the scene. For one wounded Iraqi Soldier, the team crafted a makeshift stretcher from a piece of metal that had been blown from the transport truck in the explosion.
As a result of their actions, Acosta received the Bronze Star Medal for valor while Collett earned an Army Commendation Medal for valor.
After presenting the medals, Vines expressed his admiration for their courage and applauded their actions. "In support of the Iraqi National Guard Soldiers, these three Americans risked everything they had -- their lives -- to protect and defend them," the general said.