U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Eric Overfelt/Task & Purpose illustration by Matt Battaglia
On Dec. 2, 2014, a group of Army Rangers fought through and cleared multiple insurgent-held compounds, killing more than 25 enemy fighters and rescuing a wounded Ranger in the process.
A force of 49 Rangers with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and Afghan special operations soldiers were on a joint operation in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, when they took fire.
When Staff Sgt. James B. Jones’ element took fire from just 30 feet away, he immediately returned fire before assaulting the enemy position and destroying the attackers with fragmentation grenades, according to Jones’ award citation. As Jones made his move, Sgt. Derek J. Anderson fixed the enemy fighters in place until Jones’ hand grenades exploded, reads Anderson’s award citation.
Under withering fire from rocket-propelled grenades, light-machine guns, and AK-47s, the Rangers pushed on to a compound where several enemy fighters were barricaded, reports the Savannah Morning News.
Anderson and Sgt. Travis Dunn engaged a group of six enemy fighters moving along the southern wall of the compound, killing five, according to Anderson’s citation.
Dunn and Anderson then moved toward a breach in the compound wall and Dunn opened fire on the enemy forces with his M-320 grenade launcher, but was shot in the upper torso and fell from an embankment into a courtyard below. Anderson immediately rushed to Dunn’s aid.
Completely exposed and under intense fire, Anderson ran into the courtyard and dragged the wounded man to safety. Dunn was treated and successfully evacuated yet the fighting continued in earnest, before finally ending after six long hours with more than 25 enemy fighters dead.
“Anybody in this battalion or in this regiment would do the exact same thing. I just happened to be the one standing there. We all work hard, train hard … we all do the same thing,” said Anderson during the ceremony, according to a Department of Defense news release. “We just do the job for the guys to our left and right. I don’t think anyone here really wants to be put in the spotlight.”
At Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, Anderson and Jones were awarded Silver Star medals for their courage and selfless bravery under fire during a ceremony on April 29, 2015. Four other Rangers were also recognized for their valor during that firefight. Sgt. 1st Class David White was awarded the Bronze Star with “V” as was Dunn, who was also presented with a Purple Heart, his second. Staff Sgt. Matthew Healy and Spc. Christopher Carvalho were both awarded Joint Service Commendation medals with “V.”
“Nowhere is the discipline, endurance, expertise and confidence more apparent than in the 1st Ranger Battalion, and it’s reflected in the eyes of every Ranger in this formation,” said Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, the vice chief of staff of the Army during the ceremony.
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