Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, awarded a Silver Star to Staff Sgt. Michael L. Barrera Jr., and to Pfc. Joshua V. Joseph, both of 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 172nd Brigade Combat Team, for heroism and selfless service. Army officials said their courage and disregard for their own welfare resulted in saving the lives of comrades who were severely wounded.

"I have had the distinct honor of participating in many award ceremonies," Pace told the audience of family, friends and fellow Soldiers. "It's certainly the first time I've ever had in one ceremony the honor of putting two Silver Star Medals on two very deserving Soldiers."

The chairman said each of the soldiers would probably say they don't think they deserve the awards. "If you asked them, they'd say they were doing their jobs," he said. "But if you asked their fellow soldiers, they'd say they went above and beyond the call of duty.

"The Soldiers on the wall behind me know what you have done," Pace told the award recipients. "Your courage in combat made a difference. You deserve these awards."

When read in a citation, Pace said, words like "extraordinary heroism" and "gallantry in action" don't capture what really happened that day. "But you know what happened, and so do your fellow Soldiers in the unit," he said.

"Thank you for doing what soldiers have always done in combat -- to serve, to serve well and to serve above and beyond what any of our fellow citizens would ask you to serve," he concluded. "