HUNTER ARMY AIRFIELD, GA. (USASOC News Service, March 12, 2019) - Fourteen Rangers from the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment received awards for valor and three were presented Purple Heart Medals in a ceremony on Hunter Army Airfield, March 8.
"We are here to recognize extraordinary Rangers who have gone above and beyond what was expected of them," said Army Maj. Gen. Mark Schwartz, deputy commanding general, Joint Special Operations Command, who presented the awards.
Schwartz said the First Ranger Battalion has deployed 22 times in support of the Global War on Terrorism. He quantified the impact the battalion had during their most recent deployment by saying they conducted 198 combat operations that resulted in the killing or capturing of 1,900 terrorists. He attributed JSOC's operational tempo as being responsible for "the ongoing dialogue with the Taliban."
Master Sgt. Phillip Paquette was awarded a Silver Star, the nation's third highest honor for battlefield valor, during the ceremony. As the ground force commander of a joint task force in Afghanistan, his unit engaged the enemy April 25, 2018. According to his award citation, Paquette selflessly and with little regard for his own personal safety, exposed himself to enemy fire several times in order to retrieve a casualty, suppress the enemy by direct fire and delivered several danger close aerial munitions." Paquette's actions enabled the assault force to eliminate the enemy and safely maneuver the unit to the helicopter landing zone for exfiltration.
Paquette, who has 17 years of Army service, all with the 75th Ranger Regiment.
"Though the award is an individual award, it's all about the men serving with me," Paquette said with humility. "We won't leave anyone behind. We do what we do for the person to the left and to the right wearing tan berets and scrolls on our left and right sleeves. Serving as a Ranger is a lifelong relationship."
Paquette is currently attending the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy at Fort Bliss, Texas.
Eight Bronze Star Medals for Valor were also presented during the ceremony, including two to Staff Sgt. Nicolas Volk-Perez and one to the eight-year-old Shannon Celiz, daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who gave his life during the deployment.
Five Rangers received Joint Service Commendation Medals for Valor and three were presented Purple Heart Medals.
"It is truly an honor to serve with men like you," Schwartz said to the award recipients.