The U.S. Army has announced it will upgrade a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier's Silver Star to a Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery during the unit's "Thunder Run" attack on Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003.
Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, who was killed protecting his platoon's flank, will receive the nation's second-highest award for valor in a ceremony in Pittsburgh on April 5, according to a Feb. 21 3rd Infantry Division press release.
Booker's unit — A Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment -- led an armored assault, known as a Thunder Run, which helped topple Saddam Hussein's regime, the release states.
At one point, Booker's platoon began taking heavy small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, the release states.
"Booker immediately reacted — communicated the situation to his chain-of-command, returned fire with his mounted machine gun and reassured his crew that they would make it to their objective," according to the release. "When his crew machine gun malfunctioned, Booker completely disregarded his personal safety and took up an exposed prone position on the top of his tank."
Under heavy enemy fire, Booker managed to destroy an enemy vehicle and "effectively protected his platoon's flank," the release states.
"Booker continued to engage the enemy and protect his platoon while exposed for nearly five miles until he was fatally wounded," according to the release.The Army is scheduled to present Booker's mother, Freddie M. Jackson, with his Distinguished Service Cross on April 5, the 16th anniversary of her son's death, the release states.
Cowart, a former member of the 1st Cavalry Division, is credited with wrestling a suicide bomber away from his three fellow soldiers before the bomb exploded. Cowart was severely wounded in the blast, but his actions saved the three soldiers' lives.
Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, a 3rd Infantry Division Soldier who was assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment and killed in action in Iraq in 2003, is depicted in a photo illustration alongside the Distinguished Service Cross medal, which he is slated to posthumously receive for his heroic actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, April 5, 2018, in Pittsburgh, Pa. (U.S. Army)
NEWPORT — The explosion and sinking of the ship in 1943 claimed at least 1,138 lives, and while the sea swallowed the bones there were people, too, who also worked to shroud the bodies.
The sinking of the H.M.T. Rohna was the greatest loss of life at sea by enemy action in the history of U.S. war, but the British Admiralty demanded silence from the survivors and the tragedy was immediately classified by the U.S. War Department.
Michael Walsh of Newport is working to bring the story of the Rohna to the surface with a documentary film, which includes interviews with some of the survivors of the attack. Walsh has interviewed about 45 men who were aboard the ship when it was hit.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2018
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."