FORT STEWART, Ga. A machine gunner with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment received a Bronze Star Medal with Valor at a ceremony held at Marne Garden, Feb. 23.

Specialist Sixto Garcia received the medal for engaging the enemy March 23, 2007, during the 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team's most recent deployment to Iraq. "Today we recognize one of our own," said Lt. Col. Jessie Robinson, 3/69 Armor commander. "I truly believe in my heart that all those who serve and have served honorably in the military are heroes. Today, we honor and pay tribute to a hero among heroes."

On March 23, Garcia spotted a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device and engaged the enemy while receiving heavy automatic fire.The VBIED detonated, knocking Garcia to the back of his position.

"I couldn't hear anything, and for a second, I thought I was gone," he said. "But I got up and started touching my face because my glasses broke, and I returned fire. I don't remember how long it was, but it was fast." Garcia regrouped and continued to lay down suppressive fire while his injured comrades were medically evacuated.

"I was just doing my job," Garcia said humbly. "The Army prepares you for a lot of stuff, and I think with the training I received, (the outcome was) good for everyone." Master Sergeant Stan Balcer, who was Garcia's first sergeant during the deployment, spoke highly of the awardee.

"As a person, Specialist Garcia is phenomenal, very quiet and soft-spoken, but a genuine good person," Balcer said proudly. "There are very few people that can say they've participated in and done something bigger than themselves. The actions of Garcia speak highly of himself as well as the other Soldiers (who fought) that day. Had he not done what he did, and others done what they did, unfortunately a lot of people may have not come back to their Families. We had 60 Soldiers with us, as well as 20 Marines. There were some injuries but no casualties that day." Robinson said he too was proud of the young hero.

"You don't get a Bronze Star easily," Robinson said to Garcia. "You saved a lot of lives with your actions, and we're proud of you. I don't believe there's glory in combat and war, but I do believe in honor. I do believe in pride, love, sacrifice, dedication and selfless service. Specialist Garcia, your actions were above sacrifice, dedication, selfless service and honor; you exemplified the Soldier's Creed and the Army Values."