PDA

View Full Version : CW2 DeJesus and SSG Espino (Silver Stars)


Dan
02-21-2007, 15:34
http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=255327


Special Forces soldiers earn Silver Stars
By Michael Futch
Staff writer

Two Fort Bragg Special Forces soldiers were honored today with the Army’s third-highest award for combat valor — the Silver Star.

Chief Warrant Officer Angel DeJesus and Staff Sgt. Erasmo Espino, both in the 7th Special Forces group, were honored for their heroism in action in Afghanistan. They were part of a detachment of two dozen soldiers conducting a patrol when they were ambushed by an estimated 150 to 200 Taliban fighters in May 2006.

The award ceremony was at Fort Bragg’s Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center. Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, who is commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko presented the awards. Csrnko leads the U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg.

In all, 41 soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group — mostly from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions — were recognized for gallantry and courageous actions while deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dan
02-21-2007, 15:39
RELEASE NUMBER: 070221-01
DATE POSTED: FEBRUARY 21, 2007

SOF Soldiers honored
By Spc. Daniel Love
U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Feb. 21, 2007) – 39 Special Forces Soldiers were honored in an awards ceremony at Ritz-Epps Fitness Center, Fort Bragg, N.C., Feb. 21 for valorous actions during 2006 Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom campaigns.

Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commanding General of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, presented two Silver Stars, one Soldier’s Medal, 11 Bronze Stars for Valor, 19 Purple Hearts, 22 Army Commendation Medals for Valor, and a Meritorious Unit Commendation to members of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

“This valor award ceremony is not only about recognizing the great accomplishments of the Soldiers before you, but it’s also to pass on to a new generation of Special Forces Soldiers and young Americans a knowledge of the sacrifices and bravery displayed by the generation that preceded them,” said Col. Edward M. Reeder Jr., 7th SFG (Airborne) commander. “The young children here today will not understand now, but one day they will realize that their brave fathers believed that America as a nation and an ideal is worth fighting for and at times, dieing for.”

In Afghanistan, 3rd Battalion, 7th SFG (Airborne) Soldiers were integrated into a joint task force, named Special Operations Task Force 73. The SOTF-73 had an extensive list of accomplishments from 2006, including training 2,500 Afghan soldiers, conducting over 2,300 combat missions, and neutralizing 1,178 enemy fighters.

“(They) have proven time and time again that (they) will not allow insurgent leadership to regain control of Afghanistan,” Reeder said. “(They) were responsible for not only giving Afghans a better tomorrow but also keeping terror off of our soil and for that we owe a debt of gratitude.”

Company C, 3rd Battalion, 7th SFG (Airborne) Soldiers deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The company conducted 186 direct action operations to capture and kill high value targets, resulting in 200 personnel captured and over 50 enemy personnel killed.

“The Soldiers awarded today certainly could not have foreseen the life-changing events that were about to happen as they prepared for combat operations,” said Reeder. “It was their training, professionalism, and dedication to each other that enabled them to perform their duties under the most extraordinary circumstances.”

Two of the Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, CW2 Angel DeJesus and Staff Sgt. Erasmo Espino, were awarded the Silver Star for Valor in recognition of their actions during a May 19, 2006 ambush. When their detachment was attacked by 150-200 enemy fighters, they orchestrated a fighting escape, saving many lives.

“I think that this medal goes to my whole team,” DeJesus said. “They are my family; without them, it would never have happened. I just did something for my brothers that they would have done for me.”

DeJesus said that he was proud that his wife and daughter could see him receive the award but felt that he didn’t deserve such an honor because he was only doing what had to be done.

“The most important part of the ceremony is the recognition of valor,” said Lt. Gen. Wagner. “The history of our nation rides on the backs of valorous heroes like the ones we are recognizing today, and there’s no way we could ever repay these people for what they do.”

List of Awardees:
Silver Star for Valor
CW2 Angel DeJesus
Staff Sgt. Erasmo Espino

Soldier’s Medal
Staff Sgt. Gary Wedemann

Bronze Star for Valor
Sgt. 1st Class Michael A. Bergstrom
Staff Sgt. Elisha R. Bremmer
WO1 Luis Chamorro
Staff Sgt. Jose A. Guitierrez
Sgt. 1st Class Carl F. Harris
Staff Sgt. Mark R. Hawver
Staff Sgt. Craig G. Kubala II
Sgt. 1st Class Antonio D. Pastor
Staff Sgt. Brandon B. Pechette
Staff Sgt. James H. Sanchez
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Serna

Purple Heart:
Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Binney
Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Candelario
Sgt. 1st Class John Fishetti
WO1 Luis Chamorro
Staff Sgt. Craig G. Kubala II
Staff Sgt. James H. Sanchez (two purple hearts)
Sgt. 1st Class Eric C. Horton
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Serna
Sgt. 1st Class John C. Hunnings
Capt. Matthew N. Johnsen (two purple hearts)
Sgt. 1st Class Richard Lopez
Sgt. 1st Class Darren S. Markwick
WO1 James A. Mayernik
Sgt. 1st Class Sean D. Mullins
Sgt. Joshua S. Parton
Sgt. Jimmie L. Russell
Sgt. 1st Class Oscar B. Wynne

Army Commendation Medal for Valor
Staff Sgt. Ariel Aponte
Capt. James D. Ballard
Sgt. Dustin E. Davis
Master Sgt. Keith Fedo (two ARCOM for Valor awards)
Cpt. David W. Gunther
Staff Sgt. James H. Sanchez
Sgt. 1st Class Sean D. Mullins (Two ARCOM for Valor awards)
Sgt. 1st Class Joseph A. Serna (Two ARCOM for Valor awards)
WO1 Luis Chamorro
Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Hankel
Staff Sgt. Elisha R. Bremmer
Staff Sgt. Robert Martinez
Sgt. 1st Class Johnny Moses
Staff Sgt. David M. Nolan
Sgt. 1st Class Donnie M. Ochiltree
Sgt. 1st Class Eddy Rojas
Staff Sgt. Rumaldo Rosas III

Meritorious Unit Commendation
Group Support Company, 7th Special Forces Group

Dan
02-21-2007, 15:42
Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commanding General of U.S. Army Special Operations Command prepares to return a salute to Staff Sgt. Gary Wedemann, a Soldiers Medal awardee during an awards ceremony Feb. 21 at Ritz-Epps Fitness Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. Wedemann was presented the award for his actions on a combat rescue operation in May 2005. U.S. Army Photo

Dan
02-21-2007, 15:43
Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commanding General of U.S. Army Special Operations Command shakes hands with Staff Sgt. Erasmo Espino after presenting him the Silver Star for Valor during an awards ceremony Feb. 21 at Ritz-Epps Fitness Center, Fort Bragg, N.C. U.S. Army Photo.

Basenshukai
02-21-2007, 18:09
CW2 DeJesus and SSG Espino are both personal friends. I have had the priviledge of working with both of them and I have also gone in combat operations with them and their detachment. They are part of an exceptional group of men. I am proud to know them. I wrote both of their award citations not five hours from their combat action. They are well deserved.

I'll tell you this, their detachment alone suffered two KIAs throughout their rotation. Two of their detachment members were wounded in combat in twice (two separate firefights). CW2 DeJesus was shot in the arm while running through the kill zone (!) to save his captain. Here you have the kind of men that continued to man turret positions during firefights even after parts of their crew-served weapons were shot off. This detachment is currently the highest decorated detachment in the Group: 2 Silver Stars, nine Bronze Stars with V and 9 Purple Hearts. I love those guys!!! I am so proud of them.

Warrior-Mentor
02-21-2007, 19:11
Well done. Regretful that we lose good men. One would suspect they are proud to see their teammates recognized.

Please tell DJ I said hello. It's been a while... he was still an NCO when I worked with him.

Team Sergeant
02-21-2007, 19:18
Nice to read good news.

Great job guys!!!!!!

We're all damn proud of you!

TS

Jack Moroney (RIP)
02-21-2007, 19:24
Good job men!!

CoLawman
02-21-2007, 21:24
Excellent!

Dan
02-22-2007, 08:01
http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=255341

Special Forces soldiers honored
By Michael Futch
Staff writer

Ambushed and outmanned, with the detachment commander shot in the gut and enemy fire pelting the ground like rain around them, all Chief Warrant Officer Angel DeJesus could think about was the cruise.

The planned cruise.

The Disney cruise back home in the States with his wife and young daughter.

“I decided I’m not going to die,” he said. “It was a matter of coming back.”

For his bravery in combat on May 19 in a village in the Uruzgan province of Afghanistan, the 37-year-old DeJesus was awarded the Silver Star Medal and a Purple Heart on Wednesday morning in a ceremony at Fort Bragg’s Ritz-Epps Physical Fitness Center.

Staff Sgt. Erasmo Espino Jr. also received the Silver Star Medal, the Army’s third highest award for combat valor in the face of the enemy, during the 45-minute ceremony that was attended by an estimated 400 fellow Special Forces soldiers, friends and family members.

“I was the only medic,” said Espino, who is 25. “I exposed myself to enemy fire numerous times. The fact that you saved somebody’s life — the fact that people are still living — means a lot.”

Like DeJesus, Espino is assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg.

Lt. Gen. Robert Wagner, commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko presented the awards. Csrnko serves as commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command at Fort Bragg.

In all, 39 soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group — mostly from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions — were recognized for gallantry and courageous actions while deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Among others, Staff Sgt. Gary Wiedemann of 1st Battalion received the Soldier’s Medal.

Forever linked
The lives of Chief Warrant Officer DeJesus and Staff Sgt. “Mo” Espino are forever linked because of what took place that day in May in the faraway land of Afghanistan.

DeJesus, the youngest of four sons, is from Ponce in the south of Puerto Rico. Espino, who once dreamed of becoming a doctor or a lawyer, grew up in Eagle Pass in southern Texas. His father is Mexican; his mother, Mexican-American.

These men were part of a detachment of some 24 soldiers conducting regular patrol when ambushed by an estimated 150 to 200 Taliban fighters, according to 7th Special Forces Group operations reports read during the ceremony. Their survival instincts took over while under a flurry of fire from rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, small arms and sniper fire.

DeJesus suffered a gunshot wound through his left forearm as the soldiers started seeing immediate casualties. Espino realized a crew member in his vehicle was critically injured. After determining that the soldier had died, he “disregarded his own safety, grabbed his aid bag and moved from his covered position to treat other casualties in the kill zone under fire,” the reports said.

In a separate interview, Espino said, “You have to be able to think; make quick decisions. You always fear you might get shot. It don’t come natural. We have extensive training.”

While Espino treated the injured, DeJesus realized that Capt. Matt Johnsen had been hit seriously with a gunshot wound to the abdomen. “I saw Matt in the middle of the kill zone,” he said. “But I couldn’t just leave him there.”

DeJesus left his covered position and maneuvered his way toward the commander. He then moved Johnsen and treated his wound while using his own body to shield the wounded captain from heavy fire.

“DJ,” Johnsen said of DeJesus, “he’s the real deal.”

DeJesus wanted to call in air support, but he recalled Espino telling him, “Brother, if we don’t get out of here soon, these guys are going to die.”

The leadership Espino and DeJesus displayed is credited as the main reason the patrol was able to pull out of the ambush and return to the firebase, or camp. One American soldier died and eight others were wounded in the attack.

Following the ceremony, Espino, DeJesus and other award recipients were made available to the media. That availability stands in contrast to years past when special operations were known to operate almost completely under the radar.

Special Forces soldiers, who are specially trained, are known as “quiet professionals.”

“Anything dealing with Special Forces is sensitive; the classified missions that we do. Our last couple of years we’ve realized more the importance of showing and letting people see what we do,” said Maj. Clarence Counts Jr., who is the public affairs officer for the 7th Special Forces Group.

“The American people become more aware of our contributions and sacrifices. We don’t toot our own horns. We do what we do. We understand in the world today we need more exposure.”

On this morning, blasts of “God Bless America” and other patriotic music played as soldiers in camouflage Army combat uniforms and guests in their Sunday best found seats around the hardwood floor of the gym. The score clock was off, but thoughts of victory in the global war on terrorism must have flickered through the minds of the 39 who stood at a position of parade rest during much of the ceremony.

“I do what I do because of my daughter, my kids, my family,” DeJesus would say later. “Especially in this age of terrorism — they hate us. I would rather fight them on their turf so my daughter will be safe. I know it’s cliche, but basically that’s it.”

Out front stood the rigid Espino and DeJesus, each wearing a green beret with the red shield-shaped embroidered flash of the 7th Special Forces Group. Espino’s eyes had dark rings, and DeJesus — a dozen years his senior — occasionally took a deep breath.

Their stories from the day of the Taliban ambush were amplified inside the gym. Later, as Wagner addressed the assembly, a mother had to scoot along her fussy young daughter, who didn’t want to be reined in on this formal occasion.

“Multiple times they put their lives at risk to save someone else,” Wagner said afterward. “It wasn’t just one time but multiple times during that event. Without what they did other people would have lost their lives and the mission would have been a failure.”

The Silver Star Medal, Wagner explained, “It is something special.”

“I’m very proud,” said Laly DeJesus, Angel’s wife. “It means a lot.”

According to his award citation, Espino displayed “coolness under fire and a willingness to repeatedly expose himself to enemy fire to save and protect his fellow soldiers.”

DeJesus’ actions are said to have effectively disrupted the enemy ambush. “What he did was definitely not exaggerated,” Johnsen said. “The amount of fire he went through. To tell you the truth, we should not have come out of that alive.”

But in the midst of that hell on earth, DeJesus had a heavenly Disney cruise floating in his mind.

And besides, the newly honored Silver Star recipient said, “It was already paid for.”

Staff writer Michael Futch can be reached at futchm@fayobserver.com or 486-3529.

x SF med
02-22-2007, 08:17
Outstanding! Excellent job guys!

PurpleHeartDO
02-22-2007, 08:26
I am proud to wear the same uniform as these soldiers. Keep the faith bros.

The Reaper
02-22-2007, 08:57
Well done, Gents.

TR

Goggles Pizano
02-22-2007, 10:34
Outstanding! Congratulations to all those decorated.

vsvo
02-22-2007, 12:21
Great job, gentlemen!

82ndtrooper
03-24-2007, 17:07
Thanks for your service gents and God Speed !!