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6 EOD Soldiers Awarded Nearly A Dozen Medals For Combat In Afghanistan
There is no shortage of combat experience among the explosive ordnance disposal soldiers in Fort Bragg’s 28th Ordnance Company.
Since 2008, the company has had troops consistently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, working alongside the 75th Ranger Regiment and elements from Joint Special Operations Command.
Its soldiers, tasked with some of the most dangerous jobs in the U.S. military, have supported more than 4,500 combat missions during that span – an average of more than one a day.
On Thursday, officials with the unit’s higher headquarters paid tribute to a small part of that combat legacy during a ceremony recognizing meritorious and valorous achievements in recent years.
Six soldiers from the 28th EOD Company were awarded 11 medals, including a Bronze Star with Valor device, two Joint Service Commendation Medals with Valor device, a Purple Heart for wounds received in combat and one Joint Service Commendation Medal awarded for actions during combat.
The 28th EOD Company is part of the Fort Bragg-based 192nd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), which is part of the 52nd Ordnance Group (EOD), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Col. Daniel Duncan, the commander of the 52nd EOD Group, said the soldiers honored were experts in disposing of explosive devices and in taking the fight to the enemy head-on through direct action.
“You’ve done everything we ask and then some,” he said.
Duncan helped congratulate the soldiers, who included Capt. Daniel J. Young, Sgt. 1st Class Chad O. Staples, Sgt. 1st Class John Viasaggio, Staff Sgt. Michael G. Schofield, Staff Sgt. Joseph M. Peery and Staff Sgt. Devon J. Hawes.
He said the soldiers come trained and ready to fight as part of the best team in the world and are directly contributing to the mission in Afghanistan.
Their motivation, Duncan said, comes from their dedication to teammates and support from families.
The soldiers were honored at Green Ramp, with other soldiers from the 192nd EOD Battalion standing in formation and friends and families watching.
Young, of Bloomington, Indiana, was awarded a Bronze Star in recognition of a deployment that spanned December 2017 to May 2018 and a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Combat device in recognition of service in Afghanistan from March to August 2016.
Staples, of Riverton, Utah, was awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device for support during a special operations raid in September 2016, during which Staples engaged two enemy combatants attempting to maneuver to a position of advantage. He also received the Bronze Star for deployments that spanned from January to May 2017 and from December 2017 to May 2018.
Visaggio, of Jacksonville, Florida, was awarded a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device for disarming a bomb that was counting down and could have caused catastrophic casualties during an August 2017 mission.
Late last year, Visaggio received a Purple Heart for wounds received while disarming the bomb.
According to officials, Visaggio shouted for members of his team to leave the building upon discovering the explosive device, then took hold of the detonation cord and pulled it away just before it fully ignited.
Schofield, of Detroit, was awarded a Bronze Star in recognition of a January to May 2017 deployment and a Joint Service Achievement Medal for his work during the construction of a new and improved demolitions training complex, explosives storage facility and tactical operations center in Afghanistan.
Peery, of Charlottesville, Virginia, received a Bronze Star with Valor device, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. The Bronze Star with Valor was awarded for a December 2016 mission in which Peery served with Afghan special operations troops during an assault. The Bronze Star was in recognition of deployments that spanned May to July 2017 and December 2017 to June 2018.
And the Purple Heart recognized wounds received in December 2017 during a mission in which Peery was shot in the left hand and received shrapnel to his right hip and quadricep.
Hawes, of Claremont, Illinois, was awarded the Bronze Star in recognition of deployments that spanned January to May 2017 and December 2017 to March 2018.
©2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
While the U.S. military wants to keep roughly 8,600 troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban's deputy leader has just made clear that his group wants all U.S. service members to leave the country as part of any peace agreement.
"The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand," Sirajuddin Haqqani wrote in a story for the New York Times on Thursday.
In the wee hours of Jan. 8, Tehran retaliated over the U.S. killing of Iran's most powerful general by bombarding the al-Asad air base in Iraq.
Among the 2,000 troops stationed there was U.S. Army Specialist Kimo Keltz, who recalls hearing a missile whistling through the sky as he lay on the deck of a guard tower. The explosion lifted his body - in full armor - an inch or two off the floor.
Keltz says he thought he had escaped with little more than a mild headache. Initial assessments around the base found no serious injuries or deaths from the attack. U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted, "All is well!"
The next day was different.
"My head kinda felt like I got hit with a truck," Keltz told Reuters in an interview from al-Asad air base in Iraq's western Anbar desert. "My stomach was grinding."
A video has emerged showing a U.S. military vehicle running a Russian armored truck off the road in Syria after it tried to pass an American convoy.
Questions still remain about the incident, to include when it occurred, though it appears to have taken place on a stretch of road near the Turkish border town of Qamishli, according to The War Zone.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.
Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.
Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.
Survival expert and former Special Air Service commando Edward "Bear" Grylls made meme history for drinking his own urine to survive his TV show, Man vs. Wild. But the United States Air Force did Bear one better recently, when an Alaska-based airman peed in an office coffee maker.
While the circumstances of the bladder-based brew remain a mystery, the incident was written up in a newsletter written by the legal office of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson on February 13, a base spokesman confirmed to Task & Purpose.