By Sgt. Javier S. Amador, 10th Mountain DivisionDecember 17, 2012
NEW YORK (Dec. 17, 2012) -- A Soldier with the 3rd Battalion, 85th Mountain Infantry Regiment, Warriors in Transition Unit, received the George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award during the 51st Annual USO Armed Forces Gala and Gold Medal Dinner, Dec. 13, held at a hotel located in the middle of New York City's famous Times Square.
Spc. Bryan D. Dilberian Jr., who lost both of his legs and one arm after stepping on a land mine in Afghanistan during a combat dismounted patrol with "Dog" Company, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, was understandably astounded after being notified by his former commander, Capt. Luther Beazley, that he was selected for the prestigious award.
"I was surprised. I couldn't speak at first, I had no words," said Dilberian. "It was pretty nice to be recognized for all the stuff I had done."
The George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award is given to service members who demonstrate an outstanding commitment, exceptional service and dedication to their country. The service members that embody these ideals are nominated by their chain of command.
"The battalion sergeant major became aware of the award and contacted the first sergeant," said Beazley. "It's based on everything that he has done for the company, so we completed the packet."
The packets, which include extensive personal biographies, as well as a write-up that summarizes what the service member did to demonstrate how he/she personifies the ideals, are completed by their leadership and submitted for consideration by the selection body.
Dilberian not only demonstrated the embodiment of the award's ideals to his leaders and fellow Soldiers, he also demonstrated his unwavering dedication to them and his relentless drive by working to get back into action as a M-240L machine gunner, despite his physical limitations.
"I did things that a normal triple amputee don't normally do," said Dilberian. "Got back to the field, got back on the gun."
Like many other Soldiers, Dilberian was motivated to join the Army by the terrorist attacks that
occurred Sept. 11, 2001; however, he was compelled to serve with a greater urgency because he is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., and took the attack on his city very personally.
"A couple of guys put some planes into my city, my territory," said Dilberian. "So I felt that I
should be doing what every other Brooklynite should be doing, to get out there and join the Infantry and go get those guys."
The "Chosin" Soldier made it clear that it is his intent to continue serving in whatever capacity he can. Although his preference would be to continue serving on active duty with an Infantry unit, he plans to go to work anywhere he feels he can continue making a difference.
"I have a few things that come to mind, although I am still getting it together," said Dilberian. "Like working for the United Nations, the Supreme Court or with Vietnam Veterans, or as an assistant for the secretary of Defense."
The award ceremony at the 51st USO Armed Forces Gala and Gold Medal Dinner was the
culmination of a three-day stay that included meals at well-known city eateries, an opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial and a VIP tour of the Museum of Natural History to honor the awardees.
Through all of the attention that Dilberian has received, he has remained focused on the formidable challenges that lay ahead of him. Whether it is his upcoming medical retirement or making that all-important decision of what to do with his life after the Army, he approaches whatever obstacles face him with his characteristic resolve and "lead from the front" mentality.
"Infantrymen will always be Infantrymen," said Beazley. "Some guys slow down, they don't keep after it. Dilberian is a very motivated guy and has done more for the company than the company has done for him. That's the mentality of the true infantryman."