A Soldier with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with "V" device for valor April 11, for his actions in combat while deployed in support of Operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Loh, the adjutant general, Colorado National Guard, presented Sgt. Ricky Beckles with the medal in a ceremony at the 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg. headquarters. Beckles was attached to the Colorado Army National Guard's 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

According to his award citation, on Aug. 16, Beckles, deliberately and repeatedly faced heavy, direct enemy fire "in order to defend the evacuation of 13 critical casualties."

Loh read a statement prepared by the 19th SFG(A) providing greater detail of Beckles' actions that day. The account described Beckles laying down suppressive fire on enemy forces when a projectile struck his helmet, knocking him out. He returned to consciousness and continued to fire his 40 mm grenade launcher at the enemy forces until they were completely suppressed.

"This is a Soldier we could all do well to emulate," said Loh.

Beckles' battalion commander also highlighted the significance of this award.

"It is a very special occasion that we have a Bronze Star with 'V' device

being awarded and even (more rare) for it to be (a sergeant) receiving it,

so this is something we are very proud of," said Lt. Col. David Uthlaut, commander, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg., 1st SBCT.

Following the presentation, Beckles commented on the importance his leaders and training played on the day of his heroic actions.

"I have to thank everyone who mentored me and trained me," he said. "Our training isn't always enjoyable, but it really does matter."

Beckles also thanked his wife, Marlene, who he married just before deploying last year.

The ceremony concluded with friends, Families and service members lining up to shake Beckles' hand and thank him for his service.