FORT HOOD, Texas -- Sgt. (R) Daniel Cowart was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation's second highest medal for valor, during a ceremony conducted March 20 on Fort Hood.
Cowart, a former member of 3rd Armored Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was originally awarded the Silver Star for his actions in May, 2007 in Samara, Iraq, but following a comprehensive review of awards by the Army, it was upgraded.
Following the presentation of the medal, Cowart addressed the crowd of hundreds in attendance. He thanked his family and members of D. Co. 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment who served with him in Iraq, especially those who were members of his tank crew.
"Reuniting with these guys brings feelings of happiness and also sadness," he said. "I'm happy because we can catch up on old times and laugh over a beer. Some of the best memories I have of the Army are with these guys. Sadly, one member of our crew is missing. Lt. Andrew Bacevich was killed in the same explosion that took my leg, but his memory lives on in our hearts."
It was on Mother's Day in Iraq when Sgt. Cowart and his platoon confronted a suspicious vehicle. The men in the vehicle got out and began firing on the platoon. According to the citation for the award, one of the insurgents was wearing a suicide vest. "Without hesitation and with utter disregard for his safety, Sgt. Cowart maneuvered under fire and engaged the insurgent in hand-to-hand combat."
The resulting explosion cost him his left leg, but saved multiple lives.
"Our nation's history is full of selfless heroes. When you hear about the acts of our warriors, you have to ask yourself, 'Where do we get these men and women?'" said Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, II, commander of III Corps and Fort Hood during his speech. "This bond comes from our shared values; loyalty, honor, duty. But when you strip it all away, it is love ... this is the real core of the bond between warriors. It is that love that brings this group here today to honor a true American hero and patriot who put everything on the line for those he loved and served with."
The presentation consisted of a full retreat ceremony in honor of the U.S. flag and Sgt. Cowart, followed by a traditional Cavalry charge.