By Stephenie Tatum, ParaglideAugust 17, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Two paratroopers from Company D, 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division were awarded medals for valor Friday at Fury Field.
Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg deputy commanding general, presented Staff Sgt. Ryan Gloyer, 27, with the Bronze Star medal with V device and Sgt. Donald Kuehner, 23, with the Army Commendation Medal with V device for their actions in 2007 while deployed with the 4th BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. in Afghanistan.
"They demonstrate exactly why this is the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer for our Army. Every day is the day of the noncommissioned officer at the 82nd Airborne Division. Staff Sergeant Gloyer and Sergeant Kuehner clearly demonstrate that in all that they have done and will continue to do to bring our troopers to success on the battlefield," said Allyn.
Gloyer and fourth platoon, Co. D, 2nd Bn., 508th PIR were called July 25, 2007 to escort a vehicle recovery team near the village of Kolagu, in the Zormat district when their platoon was ambushed by about 60 anti-coalition militia. Gloyer volunteered to attempt to flank the enemy. For over 90 minutes, he and his team engaged and repelled the enemy.
The enemy eventually lost confidence and retreated. In the end, Gloyer led his team across the objective in pursuit of the enemy and explored the ambush line for any useful evidence. Gloyer's leadership and personal courage under fire is credited in the narrative of his actions for the deaths of nine enemy personnel and the capture of an enemy fighter.
"When the recovery caught on fire that was the first time I remember thinking someone could really get hurt. Mainly I was thinking these guys are in trouble and we've got to help them out," said Gloyer.
Kuehner, a gunner with fourth platoon, Co. D, 2nd Bn., 508th PIR and other members of Co. D were attached to Company A, 2nd Bn., 508th PIR, 4th BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. on Oct. 14, 2007 and tasked to set up a command post, establish security and observe the unit's movement. About five hours into the mission, a mounted patrol and quick reaction force was ambushed by enemy fighters armed with rocket propelled grenades, small arms and heavy machine guns, suffering casualties. Kuehner and his unit moved back to the CP to support the Soldiers who had been attacked and evacuate the wounded. He volunteered his vehicle to pull rear security for the entire convoy, knowing this is the most vulnerable position for an enemy counter attack. He continued to fire and protect the convoy back to the CP while enemy fire and occasional close air support strafed enemy positions within 75 meters of his vehicle. Medical evacuation helicopters were awaiting the convoy to evacuate the 12 casualties when they arrived. Kuehner is credited with saving the lives of about 12 paratroopers and the deaths of about 25 enemy personnel with his actions.
According to Kuehner's medal citation, his actions "inspired fellow Soldiers in a seemingly hopeless situation and greatly contributed the mission success."
Kuehner said he always had faith in his fellow Soldiers from that day. "I had hope. Especially being a gunner you've got to have a lot of faith in your driver. I had a lot of faith in my driver and he helped me keep my hope at the same time," he said.
Gloyer and Kuehner both credit their teams and the unit leadership for the honorable actions that occurred.
"It wasn't just myself and my truck out there that day. It's all just team work. We all worked great together. We communicated well together. When I made my move they all knew what to do right after that," Gloyer said.
Kuehner agreed and said, "Sergeant First Class Mack, Captain Manley and Staff Sergeant Maldonado" deserve recognition for the Oct. 14, successes.
Gloyer emphasized the importance of showing other paratroopers that what they do for their country will not go unnoticed and the leadership will support them as they prepare to head back into combat.
"It's nice to be recognized for the actions that you do. Mostly, it's to help these younger guys see that (their) actions aren't going to go unrecognized. They need to know that they are going with other NCOs that have seen some stuff and they have to have confidence in their leaders who will get them through," said Gloyer.
Kuehner also feels it is important to show other members of the brigade they will be acknowledged. "This means a lot to me ... Everything we've been teaching them over this last year hasn't been all BS," he said.
As the 4th Brigade will soon embark on its next deployment, Gloyer said he is optimistic but realistic.
"I am not worried, I'm prepared to handle it. It is what we do - you hope for the best but expect the worst and deal with it likewise," he said.
The award ceremony was bittersweet for both paratroopers, who have been in the Army for four and a half years and will soon deploy for a second combat tour with the 4th BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. to Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Frank Jenio, 2nd Bn., 508th PIR commander concluded the ceremony praising Gloyer and Kuehner for their actions and noted the unique opportunity to recognize the paratroopers, who risked their lives for others.
"They wrote another chapter in the historic past and lineage of this regiment but more importantly, they represent what you will do in our upcoming deployment ... The bottom line is that when asked - they answered the call. Just as you all will do. Fury from the sky," said Jenio.