6 EOD Soldiers Awarded Nearly A Dozen Medals For Combat In Afghanistan

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Soldiers from the 28th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company on Fort Bragg, execute room entry and clearing procedures during a training event on Nov. 4, 2015
U.S. Army/Sgt. Matthew Keeler

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.

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©2018 The Fayetteville Observer (Fayetteville, N.C.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Then the rhythmic clapping begins.

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"Of the 11,000 or so detainees that were imprisoned in northeast Syria, we've only had reports that a little more than a hundred have escaped," Esper said, adding that the Syrian Democratic Forces were continuing to guard prisons, and the Pentagon had not "seen this big prison break that we all expected."



Well, I feel better. How about you?

On Wednesday, the top U.S. envoy in charge of the global coalition to defeat ISIS said much the same, while adding another cherry on top: The United States has no idea where those 100+ fighters went.

"We do not know where they are," James Jeffrey told members of Congress of the 100+ escaped detainees. ISIS has about 18,000 "members" left in Iraq and Syria, according to recent Pentagon estimates.

A senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday the White House's understanding is that the SDF continues to keep the "vast majority" of ISIS fighters under "lock and key."

"It's obviously a fluid situation on the ground that we're monitoring closely," the official said, adding that released fighters will be "hunted down and recaptured." The official said it was Turkey's responsibility to do so.

President Trump expressed optimism on Wednesday about what was happening on the ground in northeast Syria, when he announced that a ceasefire between Turkey and the Kurds was expected to be made permanent.

"Turkey, Syria, and all forms of the Kurds have been fighting for centuries," Trump said. "We have done them a great service and we've done a great job for all of them — and now we're getting out."

The president boasted that the U.S.-brokered ceasefire had saved the lives of tens of thousands of Kurds "without spilling one drop of American blood."

Trump said that "small number of U.S. troops" would remain in Syria to protect oilfields.


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Editor's Note: This article by Matthew Cox originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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