By J.D. LeipoldNovember 2, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 2, 2007) - First Lt. Walter B. Jackson became the seventh Soldier since the Vietnam War ended in 1975 to receive the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action.
Secretary of the Army Pete Geren presented the DSC, which is second in precedence to only the Medal of Honor for valor in battle, at a ceremony held in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes this afternoon.
A second lieutenant at the time of his heroic action on Sept. 27, 2006, Lt. Jackson was cited for selfless courage under extreme enemy fire while serving as a company fire support officer with company A, Task Force 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment in Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
Lt. Jackson was engaged in combat operations with his unit against insurgents and while he attempted to recover a disabled vehicle, his unit came under heavy machine gun fire, which resulted in several Soldiers being wounded. As he applied first aid to a severely wounded comrade, he too was shot in the thigh.
Lt. Jackson's citation in part reads: "Upon regaining consciousness after being shot, second lieutenant alternated between returning fire and administering first aid to the Soldier. Second Lt. Jackson was hit again with machine gun fire as he helped carry his wounded comrade to safety, but he never faltered in his aid. Although his own severe wounds required immediate evacuation and surgical care, 2nd Lt. Jackson refused medical assistance until his wounded comrade could be treated. Second Lt. Jackson's selfless courage under extreme enemy fire was essential to saving another Soldier's life and is in keeping with the finest traditions of military service..."
Before the presentation, Lt. Col. Thomas C. Graves, former Task Force commander, recounted part of that September 2006 day when he arrived at the medical aid station to see his wounded Soldiers and the first words to come from 2nd Lt. Jackson were of concern for the wounded captain he'd rescued.
"All the leadership schools, classes and years of experience never really prepare you for that moment in time when you are standing among heroes who have given their all, where their first concerns still remain with their fellow Soldiers," he said. "It reinforces duty and commitment unlike any other experience."
After Secretary Geren made the award presentation, 1st Lt. Jackson spoke to the packed room, humbly thanking his family, his West Point classmates and the Soldiers he's served with in his short two-year career and saying simply, "I believe I just had to do what I had to do in that situation... I think many Soldiers would have done the same thing."
1st Lt. Jackson has been recovering from his wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, having undergone more than a dozen surgeries. While recovering at WRAMC, he volunteered as an intern with the Judge Advocate General's office. He is awaiting orders to take over a multiple launch rocket system platoon in Korea with the 2nd Infantry Division Fires Brigade.