U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Love

During a battle in Afghanistan that would last more than 17 hours, Sgt. 1st Class Brendan O’Connor crawled through a ditch to reach two wounded men, as machine gun fire from Taliban fighters cut the grass all around him. Taking control after the team leader was killed, O’Connor coordinated the safe extraction of his team by the use of infrared light beams from friendly aircraft and night-vision goggles.

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