By LTC Mark A. Viney, U.S. Army Heritage and Education CenterFebruary 2, 2010
Aca,!A"For heroism not involving actual conflict with an armed enemyAca,!A|Aca,!A?, so begins the criteria for the award of the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal. Approximately 18,520 awards of this decoration have been made to deserving Soldiers of the U.S. Army since its inception on July 2, 1926. Their feats of individual heroism epitomize the Army Values, which serve to guide and inspire our Army.
The same degree of heroism is required in the award of the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal as is required for the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross. The performance must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. Awards will not be made solely on the basis of having saved a life. The Soldier's Medal is one of four decorations for which an enlisted Soldier may receive an additional 10% of his retirement pay. The increase is not automatic. Recipients of the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal must petition the Army Decorations Board for the bonus.
Two heroes whose selfless service to a fallen comrade resulted in their award of the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal were Spc. Kyle Wren, a cavalry scout assigned to Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry (1-4 CAV), and Spc. Michael Grayson, a truck driver in the squadronAca,!a,,cs Support Platoon. During Operation Joint Endeavor in Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1-4 CAV was part of the 22,000-man American contingent of the NATO peacekeeping force known as Task Force Eagle.
On Feb. 8, 1996, Wren was serving as his troop commanderAca,!a,,cs Humvee driver. Grayson drove a fuel truck. Their vehicles were part of a logistics package (LOGPAC) convoy resupplying a scout platoon and mortar section at a remote outpost on top of Mount Vis. This prominent, volcano-shaped mountain towered 590 feet above the Muslim city of Kalesija. During the three 3.5-year Bosnian Civil War, the Bosnian Serb Army retained possession of Mount Vis, from which their observers directed artillery fire against Muslim forces in the Tuzla valley below. A narrow, icy, dirt trail wound up through minefields and wire obstacles to the outpost on top of Mount Vis, which 1-4 CAV had occupied from the Serbs just thirty-one days earlier.
After resupplying the Bravo Troop scouts and mortarmen on Mount Vis, the LOGPAC convoy departed in haste before an approaching snow storm made the already treacherous road completely impassable. Heavy snow and sleet fell as the vehicles slowly wound down the mountain. About halfway, a cargo Humvee began to slide sideways on the ice. The driver, Spc. Jessie Miller, was powerless as his vehicle slid towards the M978 fuel truck in front of him. Miller and the HumveeAca,!a,,cs truck commander, Spc. Nathan Meyer, feared incorrectly that a collision would result in a fire. More so, they feared the consequences of sliding into the minefield off the shoulder of the trail. They attempted to jump free.
Miller jumped clear but dislocated his shoulder. Meyer caught his foot on the door frame. Their Humvee rolled up an embankment and pinned Meyer face down underneath. Tilted precariously on a patch of ice, the vehicleAca,!a,,cs weight rested on MeyerAca,!a,,cs torso.
Other members of the convoy raced to MeyerAca,!a,,cs aid. Grayson, a combat lifesaver, determined that Meyer had a pulse but could not breathe with the vehicle rollbar across his back. Attempts to lift the Humvee off of Meyer only resulted in it tipping farther over and sliding on the ice.
In his troop commanderAca,!a,,cs vehicle, Capt. Bob Ivy radioed for a medevac and ordered his driver, Wren, to drive to the scene of the accident. Wren jumped out and assisted Grayson in lifting the vehicle several times just long enough to permit Meyer to inhale. Every time they lowered the vehicle, the air was forced from his lungs. The vehicle continued to slip and tilt farther until Grayson and Wren were also trapped underneath.
After difficulty with setting jacks into the ice, other cavalrymen finally lifted and stabilized the Humvee. Meyer was flown by UH-60 medevac to the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). He was unconscious during the flight but was later resuscitated and evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany. Thanks to the selfless service of Grayson and Wren, Meyer survived the accident. He sustained broken ribs and serious internal injuries, for which he was later medically discharged from the Army.
Grayson and Wren were both awarded the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal. They had endangered themselves at the risk of their own lives to save their fallen comrade. Their selfless service brought great credit upon themselves and upon the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry. Two other members of this squadron also earned the SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medal during Operation Joint Endeavor. Together, these were the only four SoldierAca,!a,,cs Medals awarded to Soldiers of the 22,000-man Task Force Eagle during the hazardous, year-long stability operation in Bosnia.
ABOUT THIS STORY: Many of the sources presented in this article are among 400,000 books, 1.7 million photos and 12.5 million manuscripts available for study through the U.S. Army Military History Institute (MHI). The artifacts shown are among nearly 50,000 items of the Army Heritage Museum (AHM) collections. MHI and AHM are part of the: Army Heritage and Education Center, 950 Soldiers Drive, Carlisle, PA, 17013-5021.