The 1st Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, awarded the Silver Star medal, one of the highest military decorations for valor, to Staff Sgt. Raymond Bittinger.

About 200 Soldiers attended the ceremony July 19 at Forward Operating Base Gabe in Baqubah, Iraq. Bittinger, a 33-year-old infantryman from the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment and attached to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery, earned the medal for saving the lives of Multi-National Force Soldiers April 9 in Buhritz and Baqubah.

"As Americans, we love our heroes," said Lt. Col. Steven Bullimore, Task Force 1-6 commander. "We wonder in our heart of hearts what it is that makes them. In the example of Staff Sgt. Ray Bittinger, two things stand out. First, he has always been good at what he does. Second is the simple selflessness of a true professional."

Bittinger said he was humbled by the all of the attention and the remarks.

"I consider myself a Soldier, not a hero," said Bittinger after the ceremony. "I'm an infantryman. It's my duty; it's my job."