PATROL BASE OLSON, Iraq (American Forces Press Service, Aug. 2, 2007) - An 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper was awarded the nation's fourth highest decoration, the Silver Star, July 31, 2007, at Patrol Base Olson in Samarra, Iraq, for valorous actions during a near ambush February 2, 2007, in Samarra.
Capt. Brennan Goltry, 27, 2nd Platoon leader, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, joins a coveted list of Silver Star recipients, including Senator John McCain and Audie Murphy. He's the first from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and sixth 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper to receive the Silver Star amidst the global war on terror campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The sun had just set on Capt. Goltry and his platoon's routine mounted patrol in Samarra. He noticed the brightness of the full moon as his convoy turned south on 20th Street, because it gave the enemy an advantage of extra visibility on the U.S. patrol, he said.
The five up-armored Humvees progressed south, when they began taking automatic weapons and sniper fire from the south and west.
"It was an 'L-shaped' ambush," said the Bakersfield, Calif., native. "(Insurgents) engaged, we identified every position we could, and returned fire."
The lead Humvee was disabled immediately, so Capt. Goltry had his driver pull their vehicle perpendicular and in front of it to provide cover. Capt. Goltry spotted a shooter to his right, opened his door, and returned fire. He received two gun shot wounds to his left leg but continued fighting until the shooter was killed.
Capt. Goltry took cover and gathered his men; like him, some of them were wounded. It is unknown how many attackers were involved, but Capt. Goltry led his men south on foot with suppressive fire and basically ran through the objective until
the enemy was constrained. The ability to gain fire superiority allowed for his more seriously wounded Paratroopers to receive medical care.
"I'm real proud of my men," Capt. Goltry said. "They fight real hard for me, and they've saved my (rear) more than once."
Capt. Goltry's commander and fellow Paratroopers said this was just another day for him. He's a tough, no nonsense type of leader, but at the same time, though one may never see it, he's extremely compassionate about his platoon, said Capt. Buddy Ferris, commander, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
"Here in Iraq, he's excelled at everything he's done," said Ferris, who has worked with Capt. Goltry since October 2005. "I'm happy he's been recognized, but this is the type of stuff he does everyday. It's not the first time he's been shot, and it's not the first time he charged the enemy."
Capt. Goltry attributes his leadership to the men of his platoon, whom he said he's fortunate enough to have trained with for 11 months at Fort Bragg, N.C., and fought along side of for a year in Samarra. There have been no surprises to them because of their training, and they're used to roughing it, he said.
"This deployment is pretty much exactly how I expected it to be," Capt. Goltry said. "We did everything in training that we do here right now - air assaults, cordon and knocks. We've done all the shooting and everything required of us here."
"It's just another day to me and my platoon; we're used to roughing it," Capt. Goltry continued. "That's how we train, that's how we fight, and that's how we stay safe in this country."
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of 25th Infantry Division and Multi-National Division - North, presented Capt. Goltry with the Silver Star as well as two Purple Hearts - one of which was for injuries received during the February 2 attack - and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
Capt. Goltry is expected to be awarded a third Purple Heart for injuries he sustained during a May 6, 2007, insurgent attack on the Samarra Police Station.