In November 2009, Spc. Bryan Cyr and two other 82nd Airborne soldier were sent on a solemn mission: find two fellow soldiers who had been washed away in the Bala Murghab river in Afghanistan. As they searched, Cyr and his team found themselves in an intense firefight. As two machine guns fired, Cyr rushed across open terrain to help take out both positions.

Cyr was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for the fight in 2010, but that award was upgraded June 12 to the Silver Star, the third-highest combat decoration that can be awarded to a service member.

Cyr received the award this week from Maj. Gen. Thomas Drew, the head of Army Human Resources Command, at a ceremony in Alaska. 

On November 6, 2009, Cyr, was a mechanic assigned to Task Force Professional of the 82nd Airborne Division. A resupply drop for the unit had missed, falling in the nearby river. Two soldiers who ventured out into the water to retrieve the supplies were washed away, and eventually found dead.

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Missions to find the two, dubbed Operation Hero Recovery, were ambushed, resulting in intense fighting. As part of a three-man assault team, Cyr and directly engaged and destroyed two PKM machine gun positions as well as several enemy personnel, with Cyr “able to suppress these enemy positions,” according to the citation. “Specialist Cyr was an integral part of the three-man assault force that maneuvered in open terrain through a hail of enemy fire in broad daylight.” 

Cyr’s upgraded award came as part of a large scale review of awards within the Army. Valor awards can be reviewed for a potential upgrade, either at the request of a unit or through congressional channels. It can be a lengthy process – evidence must be compiled and then reviewed, eventually making its way before the Senior Army Decorations Board.

In this case, it was Cyr’s former chain of command that undertook the initial process of having his award upgraded, according to Army Human Resources Command. 

“I was not thinking about myself,” Cyr said of his actions during the award ceremony. “I was just doing my duty.”

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