By Pfc. Justin Naylor, 2BCT, 1st Cavalry Division Public AffairsJune 20, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq-A small mosque in the heart of downtown Kirkuk, Iraq, was recently the scene of a life and death struggle between four Iraqi Police and a teenage suicide bomber.
The four police succeeded in stopping and detaining the would-be bomber, potentially saving hundreds of people inside the mosque.
The four were honored for their actions during a ceremony at the Provincial Joint Control Center in Kirkuk city, Iraq, May 19, and received U.S. Army Achievement Medals.
"We are here to recognize the selfless acts of the IP.....they saved hundreds of lives," said Lt. Col. Terry Cook, the commander of 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, during his speech at the ceremony.
"The actions of these policemen highlight the exemplary performance of the IP in the city," he continued.
"They prevented a catastrophe in that mosque," explained the provincial IP commander, Maj. Gen. Jamal Tahir Bakir.
"These IP are willing to sacrifice themselves for the peace and security of this city," continued Jamal. "They are protecting Kurds, Arabs, Turkomen, and everyone else. They are working without discrimination."
"I know that the rest of the IP will look up to these four honorable policemen, and they will follow their examples," stated Jamal.
According to 2nd Lt. Max Loubiere, a San Jose, Costa Rica native and an intelligence officer with 3rd Bn., 82nd FA Regt., the suicide bomber, Ammar Afif Hamada, 19, was stopped by the guards at the Shi'ite Al-Zahra Mosque, after he reportedly fired on a guard and charged into the mosque, where he was tackled and restrained to prevent him from detonating his suicide vest.
"There were so many people praying in that mosque," explained Commissioner Hameed Hermis, one of the policemen who stopped the suicide bomber. "It was our duty to protect all of those people. As long as we wear our uniform, it will be part of our job to be willing to sacrifice ourselves for the people we serve, and it is great that we are being awarded this."
By Army regulation, AAMs can be awarded to members of the Armed Forces of the United States, or to members of Armed Forces in a friendly nation that have distinguished themselves while serving in some capacity with United States Army.