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Dan
04-18-2008, 12:43
The Distinguished Service Cross for valor in Afghanistan will be awarded to MSG O’Connor in two weeks.

There will also be a special in this Sunday's "60 Minutes" airing at 7PM EST.

Green Berets Recount Deadly Taliban Ambush
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/04/18/60minutes/main4026734.shtml

(CBS) For a defeated enemy, the Taliban show lots of life. U.S. Army Special Forces say they were shocked by the disciplined military tactics used by hundreds of Taliban fighters who ambushed them near Kandahar, Afghanistan, in their first account of the unreported battle.

The Green Berets recount their traumatic experience of fighting and escaping a much larger force that had surrounded them for two days, resulting in their unit becoming the most decorated Special Forces team in any single battle in Afghanistan.

Lara Logan's report will be broadcast on 60 Minutes this Sunday, April 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

The battle began at sundown June 23, 2006, when nine Green Berets, plus eight American and 48 Afghan soldiers were ambushed in a small village 12 miles outside Kandahar. They were searching for a Taliban commander. "It’s like all hell breaks loose," recalls U.S. Army Special Forces Maj. Shef Ford. "The enemy is firing from all directions at us….Soldiers are trying to identify the positions and return fire. They had completely surrounded us and were firing at us with multiple systems," says Ford.

It wasn’t the usual Taliban hit-and-run tactics encountered before. "We had not seen this, this disciplined execution of infantry tactics," says U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. Brendan O’Connor. Another bad sign was falling mortar rounds, says Ford. "We also started taking mortar fire into the patrol base, which also demonstrated that there was somebody who knew about the weapons systems and how to operate it," Ford tells Logan.

The battle raged for two days and nights, with the outmanned force driving back Taliban attacks and U.S. aircraft periodically attacking enemy positions. There were many heroes that day whose courage prevented the unit from being overrun. One of them was U.S. Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez, who climbed a ladder to fire at advancing enemy soldiers trying to capture two wounded U.S. troops and their translator. "Seeing Hernandez propped up at that ridiculous angle was absolutely inspiring," says O’Connor. "Tracer rounds were…whizzing right by our heads. I was [amazed by Hernandez]."

Then O’Connor - shucking his battle armor to lower his profile - slowly crawled toward the wounded men while U.S. Army Special Forces Master Sgt. Thom Maholic warded off another enemy team threatening the rescue by firing from a rooftop. Maholic’s efforts saved the unit but resulted in him taking a bullet in the head. "He died in my arms," says Hernandez.

The two wounded men were rescued; but despite being carried back to safety by O’Connor, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joe Fuerst died of his wounds.

Unable to find reinforcements to come to their rescue, the surrounded soldiers planned an ingenious nighttime escape. They radioed the support aircraft above them to beam an infrared light invisible to the naked eye on a path back to their patrol base. The Green Berets, using their night-vision glasses, could see the beam and led their men to safety, while the aircraft attacked anything moving beyond the infrared beam.

Ford’s unit and their supporting aircraft killed an estimated 120 Taliban fighters during the battle. Maholic was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for saving his unit and the Special Forces firebase near Kandahar was renamed after him.

Later this month, O’Connor will become only the second American to receive the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in Afghanistan. The entire unit was honored at a ceremony at Ft. Bragg late last year, making them the most decorated Special Forces team in any one battle of the Afghan war.

The battle indicates that the war with the Taliban in Afghanistan is far from over. "They’ve hid and they’ve trained," says Ford. "The Taliban want to take Afghanistan back…to reinstall their government, their system of life," he tells Logan.

Roguish Lawyer
04-18-2008, 13:41
Well done, men! If anyone knows how I can reach these guys, please send a PM. I want to send the team something.

SF_BHT
04-18-2008, 13:52
Outstanding They are all a credit to the force, their Family's and the Nation.

The Reaper
04-18-2008, 15:12
Well done, men! If anyone knows how I can reach these guys, please send a PM. I want to send the team something.


Counsel:

That is not necessary, but I am sure they appreciate the sentiment.

Thank you.

TR

FMF DOC
04-18-2008, 15:20
Job Well Done.... True fighting men

Razor
04-18-2008, 15:34
Later this month, O’Connor will become only the second American to receive the Distinguished Service Cross for valor in Afghanistan.

And the first? MAJ Mark Mitchell, 5th SFG(A). So of the 10 DSCs awarded between OIF and OEF, 40% have gone to SF men.

JumpinJoe1010
04-18-2008, 16:58
Job well done gentlemen. :lifter

Dan
04-18-2008, 17:18
Maj. Sheffield Ford and Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor listen to a question during an interview with Lara Logan, a CBS news reporter, at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum in Fort Bragg, N.C., January 23. A 60 Minutes story on Operation Kaika, the 2006 operation in Afghanistan that resulted in the most decorated Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha in the war on terror, will air April 20 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)

Jack Moroney (RIP)
04-18-2008, 18:27
Good job!!

Gypsy
04-18-2008, 20:01
Incredible Men in incredible circumstances. Well done. Master Sgt. Thom Maholic Rest in Peace.

jbour13
04-19-2008, 09:49
Well deserved and may your comrades from that battle continue rest in peace.

echoes
04-19-2008, 16:29
MSG O’Connor,

Thank You Sir, for Your service, bravery, and sacrifice.

May all of the fallen, rest-in-peace.

Holly

Peregrino
04-19-2008, 16:49
Some great guys. I am honored to know a couple of them personally. I will continue to give thanks that we have such men and pray for the day when their sacrifices won't be necessary any more.

vsvo
04-19-2008, 17:04
Great job gents!

djm
04-19-2008, 22:06
Does anyone know where and when the presentation will take place?

Thanks.

Dan
04-19-2008, 22:10
Does anyone know where and when the presentation will take place?

Thanks.

How do you expect to find your way when you can't even follow simple instructions on this site. Don't post again until you have completed them (http://www.professionalsoldiers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3452).

Bayonet14
04-20-2008, 07:59
Well done to all - To those who have fought - To those who have fallen - And to those who continue to fight...

Shef - congrats on MAJ

Philkilla
04-20-2008, 18:25
As the Taliban machine-gunners zeroed in, Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor pressed himself into the dirt.

Then he did something that the manuals don’t teach: O’Connor shucked his body armor to make himself a smaller target for the gunners. Small enough to crawl 200 feet in a shallow ditch to the aid of wounded soldiers.

O’Connor says he did it because it was a job that needed to be done. He doesn’t think of himself as a hero.

But his superiors disagree. They say that his courage stood out on a day when many members of a Fort Bragg-based Special Forces unit showed extraordinary bravery.

Four of the soldiers have already been awarded the Silver Star for valor. That’s the Army’s third-highest award.

O’Connor is to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony planned for April 30. Only the Medal of Honor ranks higher in recognition of courage in combat.

“Sergeant O’Connor’s extraordinary actions, performed at tremendous risk of life, successfully rescued two wounded comrades, saved the lives of 21 American soldiers and prevented his detachment’s destruction,” said Capt. Chris Augustine, a spokesman for the 7th Special Forces Group.

The story of O’Connor’s heroism begins in June 2006, when Capt. Sheffield Ford III led his men and a company of Afghan national army soldiers into the villages near Kandahar, Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement was born. They called it Operation Kaika. Like so many of the battles in the war for Afghanistan, it took place in obscurity. But it will be in the national spotlight tonight when the story is told on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

Men who were there for the fight gathered earlier this year at Fort Bragg to remember it. This is their story.

Ford’s team of Special Forces soldiers was hearing reports that the resurgent Taliban was forcing Afghans out of their villages. So the Americans and their Afghan allies moved in with the plan of killing or capturing as many enemy fighters as they could find.

The country around Kandahar is forbidding: Huge, dusty fields cut by irrigation ditches. The team’s vehicles couldn’t get through, so the men pushed on on foot.

When they reached a compound they believed belonged to a local Taliban commander, they seized it and set up a base.

The Taliban attacked at nightfall. Scores of enemy fighters hit from three sides with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. But Ford and his team were able to beat back the attack.

The next day, the team located the compound from which the Taliban were staging their assault on the American-Afghan force.

Master Sgt. Thom Maholic — the Special Forces team sergeant — volunteered to clear out the compound with 20 Afghan soldiers. He split his men into two groups and dispatched Staff Sgt. Matthew Binney to set up a machine gun to cover the assault.

Binney took an American military trainer and nine Afghan soldiers with him and set up the machine gun. Maholic quickly routed the enemy force in the compound, but the Taliban counterattacked in force. As hundreds of enemy fighters poured in, Maholic’s men and the small group with Binney were surrounded. At the same time, the Taliban hit Ford’s base.

Binney and his team were under intense fire. Moving through a hole in a mud wall, they stumbled into a group of Taliban fighters. Both groups were surprised, but Binney and the Americans reacted first with furious fire and hand grenades at close range and kept from being overrun. They were close enough to the Taliban to hear them yelling insults and threats.

Then Binney went down, hit with a bullet in the back of the head.

Dazed and briefly blind and deaf, Binney still managed to organize an attack on a Taliban position, but a rocket-propelled grenade slammed into Staff Sgt. Joseph Fuerst’s leg.

The Taliban gunners hit Binney again as he tried to drag Fuerst out of the line of fire. The bullets shattered his left shoulder and upper arm.

O’Connor, back at Ford’s base, volunteered to lead an effort to get to the besieged assault force. He fought his way to Maholic with eight Afghan soldiers, an interpreter and another Special Forces soldier. Maholic told O’Connor and his relief force to go after the wounded.

O’Connor led his men along a wall that provided cover from Taliban machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. When he got to the end of the wall, O’Connor realized that the wounded soldiers were 200 feet away, across an open field. The field was covered by three Taliban machine guns.

With his own Afghan gunners providing machine-gun fire to cover him, O’Connor started crawling toward Binney and Fuerst. Some of the Afghan soldiers tried to follow, but they were turned back by the volume of Taliban fire.

Bullets were smacking into the dirt and cutting the grass. That was when O’Connor realized that he couldn’t get low enough unless he took off his body armor. So he shed his protection and crawled on. Inch by inch, he stayed below the hundreds of Taliban machine-gun rounds.

About halfway across the field, O’Connor noticed an Afghan soldier behind a wall firing back at the Taliban machine-gunners. The gunners quickly turned their fire toward the soldier, who rolled away just as the rounds disintegrated the wall.

O’Connor said he laughed when he saw the soldier scramble safely out of the way. It took his mind off the danger for a second.

He said he couldn’t help but think how mad the instructors at the Special Forces medics course would have been to see what he was doing. They always told the students not to go after the wounded because their skills were too valuable. “Let the wounded come to you,” they said. But these two men didn’t have that chance.

Across the field, he reached a mud wall and hopped over it. The two wounded men were holed up among grapevines. Fuerst was in bad shape, with a gaping wound in his left leg. O’Connor tied it off and looked for a safer place to move the two men.

With Taliban fighters closing in, O’Connor picked up Fuerst and ran toward a pump house on the edge of the grapevines. He stashed Fuerst in a shaded area and scouted out the pump house, hoping enemy fighters weren’t waiting.

Nearby was a 6-foot wall bordering a dirt lane. Friendly forces had made their way there, so O’Connor got Fuerst and Binney over.

Once everyone was in the lane, O’Connor started to tend to the wounded. Breaking out his medical gear, he realized that the heat — it was about 120 degrees — had melted the glue that kept his IVs together. His gear was a mess, but he did his best to help Fuerst and Binney.

After nightfall, O’Connor led the relief force back to Maholic’s perimeter. When he got to the compound, he found out that Maholic had been killed, shot by a Taliban fighter he had spotted moving in on the compound. O’Connor took over the defense of the compound.

“They needed that leadership. Up until that point, they were in a disarray, just trying to hide and survive,” Ford said. “When he showed back up with the wounded, he provided that. He provided that leadership that was needed.”

They evacuated the wounded by helicopter as Ford called in airstrikes. After nightfall, O’Connor led the remaining defenders back to the main base.

Seventeen hours after the battle started, Ford and O’Connor led the team out of the district, leaving more than 100 Taliban fighters dead.

Despite O’Connor’s efforts to save him, the team lost Fuerst as well as Maholic.

Months afterward, Ford, Binney and Maholic and Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez were awarded Silver Stars for their actions during the battle. But the team thought O’Connor deserved even greater recognition.

O’Connor is uncomfortable with the attention. He said other people — firefighters, police officers and military spouses — are real heroes. In his mind, he was doing his job — what any one of his teammates would have done.

“It’s not the man,” he said. “It’s the moment.”

But Ford doesn’t see it that way.

“He’s an absolute hero. His whole thought process was on what he could do to help others that were engaged in this battle who were wounded,” Ford said. “Ultimately, he stripped all of his equipment off in order to do what he needed to do. He made those decisions without hesitation.”


http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=291718

Dan
05-02-2008, 21:16
RELEASE NUMBER: 080501-01
DATE POSTED: MAY 01, 2008

Special Forces Soldier is awarded the second highest medal for combat

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, April 30, 2008) – A 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Soldier was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at Bank Hall, Fort Bragg, N.C., April 30 for valorous actions during Operation Enduring Freedom.

On his 20th year of military service, Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor, formerly a senior medic on a 2nd Battalion, 7th SFG (A) Operational Detachment Alpha, was presented the award while he stood before family, friends, and fellow Soldiers.

“For the men who were with him that day, Master Sergeant O’Connor is a savior,” said Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of United States Special Operations Command, who presented the award to O’Connor. “For all Americans, he is a hero, and for all members of special operations across the services, he is a source of enormous pride.”

O’Connor was instrumental in keeping his team alive during an intense battle with over 250 Taliban fighters in southern Afghanistan on June 22, 2006. While making a temporary stop during a patrol, his team and their attached Afghan National Army soldiers were attacked from all sides with small arms fire, heavy machine guns, rocket propelled grenades, recoilless rifles and mortars.

During the 17 1/2 hours of sustained combat that followed, O’Connor and his team fought of wave after wave of Taliban attackers from a group of small compounds, fighting for their lives against insurgents who were intent on killing or capturing the beleaguered defenders. Much of the combat was so close that the defenders of the compounds could hear cursing and taunting from the enemies who swarmed the perimeter.

After hearing two Soldiers were wounded at another location, O’Connor removed his body armor and low-crawled under heavy machine gun fire to treat and extract his wounded comrades. O’Connor then carried a wounded Soldier back to a safer area, again passing through intense fire. One teammate commented that as he was crawling, machine gun fire “mowed the grass” around him.

“I don’t think that what I did was particularly, brave,” said O’Connor. “My friend needed help and I had the opportunity to help him, so I did. I think I’m lucky to get this sort of recognition; there are so many other Soldiers who do similarly brave things overseas and are happy with just a pat on the back when they get home.”

O’Connor is the second Soldier to be awarded the DSC for actions taken in Operation Enduring Freedom. The first was a 5th Special Forces Group Soldier, Maj. Mark Mitchell in 2003. Before Mitchell there had been none since the Vietnam War. The DSC is the second highest award for valor, surpassed only by the Medal of Honor.

“I’ve never been more honored, but this medal belongs to my whole team,” said O’Connor. “Every member was watching out for the other, inspiring each other, and for some, sacrificing for each other. We all fought hard, and it could just as easily be any one of them standing up here getting it pinned on; every one of them is a hero.”

--usasoc--

Dan
05-02-2008, 21:17
Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor, formerly a senior medic on a 2nd Battalion, 7th SFG (A) Operational Detachment Alpha, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony at Bank Hall, Fort Bragg, N.C., April 30 for valorous actions during Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)

Dan
05-02-2008, 21:17
Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor, right, 7th SFG (A) Operational Detachment Alpha, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross during a ceremony by Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of United States Special Operations Command, at Bank Hall, Fort Bragg, N.C., April 30 for valorous actions during Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Sgt. Daniel Love, USASOC News Service)

Snaquebite
05-02-2008, 22:28
I was priveleged to have the opportunity tonight to tip a beer with this soldier and some of his team mates tonight.

The Reaper
05-15-2008, 07:50
Helluva letter. Must be one helluva wife. Congrats Brendan.:D

TR

http://www.fayobserver.com/article?id=293900

One man's words helped put husband's actions in perspective

Margaret O'Connor

In the many years that I have written this column for the paper, I have spoken often of my family and my husband. I have never, however, spoken about his wartime deployments or shared what I am about to divulge.

Primarily, I never wrote of his absences because of the need for keeping a low profile, but secondarily, and perhaps more important to me, was the need to protect my heart.

My husband, Master Sgt. Brendan W. O’Connor, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on April 30 for what he did in Pashmul, Panjwai District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, in June 2006. It was an intense few days of heavy, sustained fighting that resulted in five losses (two American and three Afghan National Army) one severely wounded American, and many awards for valor.

My husband never told me what he did that day. He never spoke of it. I heard stories from others in 7th Special Forces Group about what Brendan had done. As the picture started to come into focus, I was left with two very distinct thoughts. A dueling dichotomy was waging war in my heart.

First, I thought that what I was hearing was completely in keeping with the man I know and love. No surprises here. Second, the wife and mother of his four children kicked in, and I wondered, “What the hell were you thinking? You have a wife who adores you, a daughter who needs you to walk her down the aisle someday and three boys who still desperately need your guidance. What on earth were you thinking?”

In my head, I knew that not thinking about us at that particular moment is what probably kept him alive. Distractions, even familial ones, can be costly when you are in battle. My head got it, but it took my heart a little longer to catch up. It got there eventually, with the help of one very unlikely source, retired Staff Sgt. Matt Binney.

He does not know this, but Binney is the primary reason why I did not throttle my husband when he returned home safely from Afghanistan. It was Binney’s words that rang in my ears in the days and months that followed that horrific battle. Just his very presence was enough to put it all in perspective, but his words sealed the deal.

You see, my husband, Brendan, led a quick reaction force to retrieve two injured soldiers who lay seriously wounded and exposed to the enemy. It was my husband who attempted to crawl across an open field to the wounded soldiers. After a few meters, he realized that his heavy load was too burdensome and was creating too easy a target for the enemy. Brendan returned to cover and did what most people say was unthinkable. He removed his body armor, all of it, took a deep breath and started crawling again, crossing the 80-meter open field, alone, toward the wounded.

Hundreds upon hundreds of bullets were fired at him and literally mowed down the grass all around him. He knew that as a medic, he had to get to these men and help them if they were to have any chance at all for survival. Binney and Sgt. Joseph Feurst were severely wounded with little possibility for survival until Brendan finally reached them. He tended to their wounds as best he could and rallied Binney to start moving towards cover. Feurst was unconscious, and Brendan had to carry him to cover. Methodically, they made their way to safety.

Feurst did not survive. His wounds were too extensive. I remind my husband daily that through the sorrow of this loss, he should remember that he gave a widow and a family a body to lay to rest. What the Taliban would have done had they captured his body is something no family member should ever have to endure.

Binney has survived and is in school and studying medicine . He has a new son with his beautiful wife and a long and prosperous life ahead of him. By the way, Binney’s words that still ring in my ears were spoken to me while I visited him at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He told me, “Brendan did not think about you during that firefight because he did not have to.” He said, “Brendan knew you were strong and capable enough to handle any outcome of that battle.”

Forty years to the month after his father‘s death in Vietnam, Brendan received the Distinguished Service Cross for actions on the field of battle. A rich family history of service and sacrifice rounds out a truly remarkable man. If you ask him, he will tell you he was just doing his job and that anyone else would have done the same. I heard him say “I am humbled to walk in the presence of heroes.” I will agree with that. Thank you to all who serve, you do us proud. Peace to all.

Margaret O’Connor can receive messages at military@fayobserver.com or 486-3585

Red Flag 1
05-15-2008, 10:08
Well done! May those who have died so others may live, rest in peace.

Rogue
05-15-2008, 10:26
Well Done

Gypsy
05-15-2008, 19:55
That IS a helluva column! Thanks TR.

Military Spouses Day was just a few days ago...may each of you be blessed for all you sacrifice.

wet dog
09-07-2010, 11:39
I like finding and reading worthwhile threads that have not been touched for some time.

Thanks fellas for your service!


Months afterward, Ford, Binney and Maholic and Sgt. 1st Class Abram Hernandez were awarded Silver Stars for their actions during the battle. But the team thought O’Connor deserved even greater recognition.

O’Connor is uncomfortable with the attention. He said other people — firefighters, police officers and military spouses — are real heroes. In his mind, he was doing his job — what any one of his teammates would have done.

“It’s not the man,” he said. “It’s the moment.”

But Ford doesn’t see it that way.

“He’s an absolute hero. His whole thought process was on what he could do to help others that were engaged in this battle who were wounded,” Ford said. “Ultimately, he stripped all of his equipment off in order to do what he needed to do. He made those decisions without hesitation.”

GSquared
09-08-2010, 16:11
Awesome story about a heroic man.