View Full Version : SFC Wanner, Silver Star; B-2-19SFG

Mr Furious
02-15-2010, 20:23

Ohio Guardsman honored for courage under fire
By 2nd Lt. Kimberly Snow
Ohio National Guard

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland awards the Silver Star Medal to Sgt. 1st Class Mark A. Wanner of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, during a Silver Star Medal award ceremony at the Ohio Statehouse Feb. 6, 2010. Wanner is the first Ohio National Guardmember to be awarded the Silver Star since the Korean War. (Photo by Spc. Ryan Cleary, Ohio National Guard)
download hi-res photoCOLUMBUS, Ohio (2/8/10) -- Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wanner prefers to be referred to as a “Soldier,” not a hero. But he graciously humors those who insist on the latter.

On Feb. 6, the Ohio Army National Guard Special Forces medical sergeant stood unassumingly on a stage in the Ohio Statehouse atrium here to receive the Silver Star Medal—the nation’s third highest medal for valor in combat.

Despite the season’s worst snowstorm, several hundred people, including his fellow Green Berets from the Columbus-based Company B, 2nd Battalion of the Army National Guard’s 19th Special Forces Group, traveled to Central Ohio to attend the event honoring Wanner for his actions during a firefight last May when he saved the life of a fellow Green Beret.

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and Maj. Gen. Gregory L. Wayt, the adjutant general of Ohio, were on hand to present Wanner with the medal. It is the first such award for an Ohio National Guard member since the Korean War.

“We are in the presence of greatness today,” Strickland said. “Many people live their entire lives wondering if they’ve made a difference. But Sergeant First Class Mark Wanner never has to worry about that, does he?”
Fighting back tears, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Clifton recounted the day he almost lost his life after being shot multiple times during a raid on a Taliban compound in eastern Afghanistan.

“I’m standing here today, alive, because of the heroic and competent actions Mark performed on the night of May 31, 2009 -- Memorial Day,” Clifton said.

The previous week, Clifton and his team had received word that a known Taliban leader would soon be meeting with about a half dozen Taliban fighters at a known location in a nearby village.

After waiting for five days with what Wanner referred to as “tactical patience,” the team received word that their target was in position. It had been training with their Afghan counterparts for nearly five months and the plan was to allow the Afghans to take the lead and follow shortly behind.

But when the team approached the village, the Afghans were already in trouble and the situation was deteriorating quickly. They had expected five or six Taliban fighters, but there were at least 30. They reacted immediately.

“I led some guys into a doorway and that just happened to be the room that had 80 percent of the threat,” Clifton said. “I knew something wasn’t quite right. Then I got hit.”

Clifton had taken at least four rounds. The first entered his pelvis just below his body armor, the second impacted the chest plate of his body armor, the third shattered his left forearm and the last round hit his helmet, knocking off his night vision goggles.

When he saw his arm and realized his rifle had dropped down in front of him, he knew he was in trouble.
He headed back out and almost immediately ran into Sgt. 1st Class Matt Scheaffer, a team medic. Wanner, the team’s senior medic, realizing Clifton was hit, immediately ran to assist Scheaffer.

Rounds splashed the ground around them as they began working on their wounded comrade. Realizing the danger to their patient, they quickly drug him around to what they assumed was the safer side of the building.

As the two medics continued to work on Clifton, Wanner began to realize the extent of his wounds. He knew they couldn’t move their patient unless they had a stretcher, so ran to the vehicle to retrieve one.

As he returned, they began receiving fire from a window about 15 feet away, forcing them to press up against the wall of the building. As he continued to work on Clifton, Wanner coordinated suppressing fire on the window and told Scheaffer to grab the fragmentation grenade.

Wanner kept on the back of his body armor and toss it into the room from which they were taking fire. The tactic worked. It subdued the enemy long enough for them to race Clifton to a vehicle for evacuation.

Wanner continued to provide life-saving care as they bounced across the desert to a medical evacuation site, avoiding the main routes they knew to be laced with roadside bombs.

When the medical evacuation helicopters arrived, Wanner boarded the one carrying his Soldier-turned-patient and didn’t leave his side until Clifton was transported to the U.S. Army hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, three days later.

“He was there every step of the way, ensuring I was receiving the best possible care,” Clifton said. “He assisted the flight surgeon in the medevac, the trauma surgeons in the (operating room) and even helped out a wounded Soldier that lay next to me. That’s Mark … always going over and above the call of duty.”

Wanner, a North Dakota resident, spent nine years in his home state’s National Guard before joining the Ohio National Guard in 2000, when he accepted a job as a researcher with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.

In 2003, he left his job at the university to begin two years of Special Forces qualification and specialized language and medical training. When he moved back to North Dakota, he did not even consider leaving his Ohio National Guard Special Forces unit.

“I find it remarkable that he travels every month to train with these men right here,” Wayt said. “That speaks to the brotherhood that exists inside this unit.”

Throughout nearly 20 years of service, Wanner has worked in several military occupational specialties, training initially as a vehicle mechanic, then as a carpentry and masonry specialist and combat engineer in the North Dakota National Guard before joining the Ohio National Guard and earning his Green Beret. He earned a bachelor’s degree from North Dakota State University in 1996 with a major in microbiology and minors in chemistry and biotechnology.

Wayt referred to Wanner as a “fixer,” who epitomizes the spirit of the Silver Star Medal.

“If you have mechanical trouble, you call Mark. If you have a house problem and you want something built or fixed, you call Mark,” Wayt said. “And as Sergeant Clifton can attest, he fixes life-threatening injuries as well.”

Wanner, who currently works building custom homes in North Dakota, shrugged off the praise. “I was just the closest person to him that day. The real heroes are the whole team, our Afghan counterparts,” he said. “The whole team’s a hero because everyone did their part.”

Nonetheless, Clifton credits the medic who never left his side, ensuring he made it home to his wife and two young sons—the modest and gracious man who shrugs off praise and rejects being labeled a hero.

“I’ve thanked Mark several times since that day and his response is always the same,” Clifton said. “‘Ah, you would have done the same thing. I was just doing my job.’”

02-15-2010, 20:34
Outstanding Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wanner !!!!!

02-15-2010, 22:37
Well done, SFC Wanner! Thank you for your service and your professionalism. We are ALL so very proud of you!!!:D

molon labe:lifter

02-16-2010, 13:28
De Oppresso Liber, SFC Wanner ...............:D:D:D

Big Teddy

wet dog
02-16-2010, 13:31
Out hearts swell with pride for your service and sacrifice.

Good job Sergeant!!!

Wet Dog

02-16-2010, 13:32
Well done, SFC Wanner! Thank you for your service!!!

02-16-2010, 13:34
Thank you SFC Mark Wanner


Goggles Pizano
02-16-2010, 14:02
Thank you, and congratulations SFC Wanner!

Red Flag 1
02-16-2010, 14:05
Well done SFC Wanner!!!

02-16-2010, 18:35
Great job Mark... none of us will forget that night... especially Sean. You certainly deserved it.

02-16-2010, 18:39
Outstanding and this story has a good deal more that is up to the QP's on the ground to tell.

It is well deserved and other men there cannot be forgotten of their contributions that whole tour, not just this night.

03-17-2010, 15:58

FARGO, N.D. (Courtesy of North Dakota National Guard Public Affairs, March 15, 2010) - A Bowman, N.D., Soldier who received the Silver Star medal last month was honored again March 12, this time with the North Dakota Legion of Merit award.

Sgt. 1st Class Mark A. Wanner, a former North Dakota Army National Guard Soldier, received the North Dakota Legion of Merit for "extraordinary disregard for his own personal safety while engaging the enemy to save the life of a fellow Soldier."

Wanner, who lives in Bowman, serves as a Special Forces medic with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

North Dakota Gov. John Hoeven and Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general, presented the award in front of about 500 Guardsmen gathered for the Professional Development Workshop in Fargo. Wanner's wife, Martha, their sons and his parents also were able to attend.

"I want to congratulate Mark and tell him how proud we are of him and his whole family," Hoeven said.

The Legion of Merit is the second highest state-level commendation in North Dakota. It follows Wanner's receipt of a Silver Star, the third highest decoration in the armed forces, which is awarded for valor in action against an enemy of the United States.

"My understanding is that since the Global War on Terrorism began, there have only been 23 members of the National Guard who have received the Silver Star, and two of those 23 have North Dakota roots and have served in the North Dakota National Guard. That's pretty incredible in my mind when you think of our roots and how we serve our nation," Sprynczynatyk said.

Col. Michael Wobbema, North Dakota National Guard deputy director of the joint staff, read the Legion of Merit's citation: "Sgt. 1st Class Mark Wanner began his military service in 1990, as a member of the 816th Engineer Construction Support Equipment Company, North Dakota Army National Guard. He later served as a combat engineer in the 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion until 2000. Recently, as a member of the Ohio National Guard, on the 31st day of May 2009, while serving as a senior medical sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Wanner exhibited extraordinary disregard for his own personal safety while engaging the enemy to save the life of a fellow Soldier, for which he has received the Silver Star. His duty performance serves as a testimony to his unselfish commitment to his fellow Soldiers and his dedication to the defense of this nation. Sgt. 1st Class Wanner's 20 years of service to this nation and the Army National Guard reflect great credit upon himself, as well as the states of North Dakota and Ohio."

Wanner thanked those present, especially his family for their support of his work in the military.

"It all started out here, the first 10 years of my career," Wanner said of the North Dakota National Guard. "Just that first weekend, I knew this is what I wanted to do. It all goes to duty, honor and brotherhood. Duty is the easy one. ... Putting on the uniform is no problem to serve. Honor ... we will lead the way. Brotherhood, boots on the ground, down range, it doesn't matter, it's all about your brothers next to you and anybody in this room, if we were in that same situation, I'd do the same for every one of you."

Wanner credited his team's competence with helping the situation in Iraq end as well as it did.

He was previously honored in Ohio during a ceremony in which the Silver Star was presented. The man Wanner is credited with saving, Sgt. 1st Class Sean Clifton, spoke that day, saying that, "I'm standing here alive because of the heroic and competent actions that Mark performed."