FORT HOOD, Texas - It is the third highest award given for valor. It is awarded to the elite men and woman in the military who have displayed extraordinary heroism. It is the Silver Star and few have the honor of receiving it. Many times, the award is given to those who are left behind.
Two Gold Star families accepted the medals for gallantry on behalf of Capt. Mark Resh and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Cornell Chao's heroism during a ceremony on Cooper Field March 26.
As the central-Texas winds whispered from the south over the green grass of the parade field, about 300 attendees remembered the two Apache pilots who fell defending their Coalition comrades during the Battle of An Najaf, Iraq, a fight that killed at least nine uniformed Iraqis and wounded dozens of others Jan. 28, 2007.
Brig. Gen. (P) Vincent Brooks said that in Baghdad whenever there was trouble a couple of seconds later he would hear "Big Guns is on its way."
The commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division said although Multi-National Division - Baghdad had already given An Najaf back to the Iraqi government and were no longer in the area, these two fallen heroes took the call for help.
"It was a combat action witnessed by many of their fellow warriors, on the ground and in the air, all of whom remain awe-struck to this very day," Lt. Col. Timothy DeVito, the commander of the 4th Battalion, 227th "Attack" Aviation Regiment. "Going above and beyond the call of duty, Capt. Resh and CW3 Chao conducted themselves with such honor that their names are forever recorded in the annuals of American history."
Teresa Posey, the girlfriend of Resh said that she wants people to remember that these two American heroes made the ultimate sacrifice protecting our freedom and our nation. Without the bravery of all the men and women who serve or have served in the military, she said our lives would be much different than they are today.
The battalion commander said that neither of the two fallen heroes would feel they deserved such fanfare because both were stoic professionals. He added that they were quiet and confident and very much respected by the Soldiers fighting next to them form their "competence, loyalty and rock-solid dependability."
"Their noble fortitude augments the uncommon valor that Americans can never forget," said DeVito. "Valor from the battlefields of Yorktown, Virginia, to the ridgelines of Gettysburg; heroic acts on the beaches of Normandy and the jungles of Vietnam and like the fallen American Soldiers who preceded them across the centuries, Capt. Resh and CW3 Chao proved their mettle as they confronted great risk and uncertainty - with proud resolve - in the deserts of Iraq."
Although their names are forever cemented in military history, they have also made their marks on the people they loved.
Chao's mother, Jasmine Crowl, who traveled from Orange City, Calif., said she wanted to wait for everyone in her son's unit to come home to accept the award because over the years Soldiers have become a part of their family and it wouldn't be the same without everyone there.
"Mark made an impact on me that will stay with me until the day I see him again. To love and be loved by Mark Resh is one of my greatest blessings," Posey said.
She added that although she wasn't married to Resh, she is so grateful that the 1st Cavalry Division and the Resh family have allowed her to be a part of honoring his memory.
Chao's mother, who donned a portrait of him on a button affixed to her blazer, said during the ceremony she looked up in the sky and could see the clouds and shadows and know that her son Cornell and his comrade Mark were always there.
Resh's grandfather Daniel Resh, who made the trip from Allentown, Pa., to be at the ceremony had a similar feeling. The day was so beautiful, he choked up as he explained, he just knew Mark was watching over them today.