LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Jan. 2, 2012)- U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William Mayville, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-1 and Regional Command-East, recognized combat engineer Pfc. Michael Bardford of Yuba City, Calif., on Dec. 22 at Forward Operating Base Naghlu High, Afghanistan, for his valiant actions during a recent route clearance mission.

Bardford, a 19-year-old who is currently deployed with C Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was the gunner for a route clearance mission on Dec. 9.

While the convoy was halted near a village, Bardford identified suspicious activity. He alerted his platoon of the enemy's location, which allowed other gunners to key-in on the position and allow the convoy to reposition just before a rocket-propelled grenade was fired.

Bardford also engaged the enemy position as the RPG landed where the convoy had just been sitting seconds before.

"His actions ensured the safety of his crew and the entire platoon," said platoon leader 1st Lt. Hudson Dunn, of Wolford, N.D.

Mayville was pleased with Bardford's "outstanding performance." He gave Bardford a coin and thanked him for "rising up to the occasion" and setting a "great example for other soldiers."

Bardford attributes the successful mission to his platoon as a whole.

"I personally don't feel like I saved the day or am a hero of any sort. It was a platoon effort and everyone performed remarkably well. I was just doing my job, and thanks to my training I was able to spot, react and engage the enemy without hesitation," said Bardford.

In correspondence between Dunn and company commander Capt. Leo Thomas of Santa Fe, Calif., the company leadership commended Bardford for his noble actions, awarding him an Army Achievement Medal.

"First sergeant and I and the rest of the Chaos [company] family are very proud of his actions. I also have no doubt that the rest of your platoon stepped up to the plate and did more than what they were supposed to do. The Bandits Platoon has been doing some great things and the credit goes to the platoon leadership. You have been doing great Lt. Dunn. Keep your soldiers motivated, keep instilling the Chaos discipline and we can't wait for your platoon to get here," said Thomas.

Bardford reciprocates the appreciation from his leadership.

"I would like to give a special thanks to my leadership for putting me in such a crucial role to the mission. It really shows that they trust my decisions and can see my potential to one day be a great leader. If not for them, I would not be getting recognized for my actions. Thank you," said Bardford.

Bardford, who has been in the Army for 18 months, reaffirms his decision to join.

"I chose to be a combat engineer because I wanted to be on the ground, outside of the wire doing my part for the fight. And also the same reason every other combat engineer chooses it-to blow stuff up," said Bardford.