By Paul Steven GhiringhelliJuly 30, 2010
The U.S. Army's top general paid Fort Drum a visit Friday to honor Family Members and bestow awards on 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers directly affected by an improvised vehicle-borne explosion near Kabul, Afghanistan, in May that killed two division officers.
"(We're succeeding) in these environments, because we have you," said Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff. "Take care of each other."
Casey awarded Command Sgt. Maj. Christopher Greca, division command sergeant major, and Col. Dennis S. Sullivan, assistant chief of staff G-3, each a Purple Heart and a Combat Action Badge for their efforts May 18, when their five-vehicle convoy was attacked by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
The lead vehicle was destroyed, and five U.S. Soldiers and one Canadian soldier were killed in the incident.
The two officers killed in the incident were Lt. Col. Paul R. Bartz and Lt. Col. Thomas P. Belkofer.
The Soldiers were en route to Camp Julien near Kabul where they were conducting key leader training and setting the essential conditions for the division headquarters' upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
After the initial attack, Greca, Sullivan and the remaining U.S. Soldiers secured the area, treated the wounded and issued higher headquarters medical evacuation reports.
Casey also awarded Combat Action Badges to seven Soldiers attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 10th Mountain Division (LI), for actively engaging the enemy following the May 18 attack.
Recognized during the ceremony were Col. Michael O. Lacey, Col. John D. Sims, Lt. Col. Ketti C. Davison, Lt. Col. Eric D. Henderson, Lt. Col. Eugene Shearer, Lt. Col. Christopher W. Miller and Maj. Philip McGovern.
Maj. Joseph G. Govorcek of Joint Forces Command also received a Combat Action Badge.
One Soldier who received the Purple Heart said the Army chief of staff's presence and involvement at the awards ceremony inside the post's Battle Command Training Center made the occasion even more special.
"Having the Army chief of staff present these awards just adds additional significance to the ceremony," Greca said. "The bottom line here is that I would trade this Purple Heart and those CABs for the lives of those Soldiers that we lost that day.
"These (awards)," he added, "will serve as a constant reminder to me of the commitment and sacrifices of Soldiers not only from the 10th Mountain Division (LI) but also from our coalition partners that were traveling in that lead vehicle."
The Purple Heart is awarded to U.S. service members who have been wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States, while the Combat Action Badge provides special recognition to Soldiers who personally engage the enemy or are engaged by the enemy during combat operations.