CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Dec. 19, 2010) - Two Soldiers serving in Iraq were awarded medals Dec. 18 for providing quick medical aid to a civilian who was wounded by a mortar attack on Camp Taji.

Spc. Dustin St. Cin, a 25-year-old native of Shelby, N.C., and Spc. Tristan Dutra, a 23-year-old native of Stafford, Va., were on guard duty in October when a mortar round struck the airfield they were guarding.

Shrapnel from a blast hit an Iraqi helicopter and tore into the leg of a civilian contractor working on the flight line. Dutra and St. Cin arrived at the scene at about the same time and worked together to stop the injured man's bleeding.

Both Soldiers were awarded Army Achievement Medals for their actions. They are assigned to the Enhanced Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, an aviation brigade from Fort Riley, Kan.

"I don't like sitting on the sidelines," said Dutra, who works in the brigade as a satellite operator, "but if I can do my job and not be noticed, that means I'm doing my job correctly."

But he had no choice but to run toward the spotlight that night.

"I heard the incoming noise - if you ever hear a mortar come over your head ,you can't miss that - and then immediately saw the explosion," said Dutra.

Even in Iraq, Soldiers like Dutra and St. Cin do not imagine being near the impact of a mortar, they said.

"You hope for it not to happen, but we get trained for it every day," said St. Cin, who as a mechanic was just as surprised as Dutra to be treating an injury from a mortar attack.

Also like Dutra, St. Cin replies modestly to the accolades he has received over the last two months.

"I was just following orders and doing what I was told," he said.

Both Soldiers will return to Fort Riley, Kan., this spring, when their brigade finishes its year-long tour.

(Spc. Roland Hale serves with PAO eCAB, 1st Inf. Div.)