View Full Version : VP Cheney attended heroism awards ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base

06-11-2005, 07:52
Vice President Dick Cheney attended to conclude a week-long gathering of military and special operators personnel, business and civilian contractors.

WASHINGTON, June 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The following are remarks by Vice President Cheney at the Special Forces Heroism Awards Ceremony:

MacDill Air Force Base
Tampa, Florida
2:10 P.M. EDT

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you, General Brown. And I'm delighted to be here this afternoon. I appreciate the warm welcome. Lynne and I consider it a great privilege to visit the Special Operations Command, and to spend time in the company of America's silent professionals.

Each one of you has taken an oath to serve the nation, and you do so in a period of tremendous consequence. Almost four years ago, the United States was attacked by enemies who hate our country and oppose everything we stand for in this world. They have declared their intention to strike America yet again, and they seek weapons of mass destruction, in order to blackmail free nations and to commit murder on a massive scale. After the grief of September 11th, 2001, this nation made a decision: We will not sit back and wait for future attacks. We'll prevent those attacks by taking the fight to the enemy.

The war on terror is a new kind of conflict, against a new kind of adversary, presenting a daily test to our national resolve. And the greatest demands have come to the men and women of our armed forces. Once again, special ops are the tip of the spear -- and your performance has been absolutely superb. By your service in distant lands, facing constant pressure and life-or-death situations, you are delivering patient justice to freedom's enemies. And I want you to know that your country is very proud of you.

This morning we recognize five special operators who have performed with exceptional distinction in the face of peril. Each of the medals I am about to award has a long and distinguished history. By their actions, these men have reflected exceptional credit on the armed forces, and on the nation we are all proud to serve.

The Bronze Star, first authorized during World War Two, is awarded for heroic service while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States - - and one of the earliest recipients of this decoration was Army Captain Audie Murphy. It's presented this afternoon to Chief Boatswain's Mate Donald Stokes of Casper, Wyoming. As the citation will indicate, Chief Stokes has earned a second award of the Bronze Star -- and so his medal will bear a Gold Star as well.

The Silver Star dates back to the early 20th Century, and is cited for gallantry in action. Many decades ago, Silver Star Medal number one, with six oak leaf clusters, was presented to Army General Douglas MacArthur. Today the Silver Star is given to Army Sergeant First Class Stephan Johns of Pleasantville, New Jersey.

The Distinguished Service Cross also dates back to the early 20th Century, and is presented for extraordinary heroism. Short of the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross is the highest decoration that can be earned by a member of the United States Army. It's given this afternoon to Master Sergeant Donald Hollenbaugh of Clarkston, Washington.

The Distinguished Flying Cross was created by Congress in 1926, and first presented to Captain Charles A. Lindbergh of the Army Corps Reserve. It is awarded for extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight. The Distinguished Flying Cross is presented today to Air Force Major Matthew R. Glover of Longview, Texas, and Army Chief Warrant Officer David Smith of Colorado Springs, Colorado. In addition, Major Glover receives an Oak Leaf Cluster with Valor.

And now if you will, publish the orders.

(The orders are published. The medals are presented.)

END 2:20 P.M. EDT

06-11-2005, 07:52
Vice President Dick Cheney awards U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Stephan Johns the Silver Star during a ceremony Friday afternoon at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla. Johns was awarded the medal for gallantry in action against an armed hostile force in Afghanistan.

06-11-2005, 07:55
Vice President Dick Cheney, left, stands with U.S. Army Master Sgt. Donald Hollenbaugh before awarding the serviceman the Distinguished Service Cross.

06-11-2005, 08:00
Vice President's Remarks at Closing Ceremonies of Socom's International Special Forces Week (part I)

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you, very much, General Brown, and thank you for the introduction, the warm welcome. I'm delighted to be here today as you conclude the first International Special Operations Forces Week here in Tampa. I've been looking forward to the visit because I'm a great admirer of special ops professionals, and I'm pleased to bring thanks and good wishes to all of you from our Commander-in-Chief, President George W. Bush.

I had my first dealings with special ops while serving in the House of Representatives, when many years ago I visited Fort Bragg and saw a demonstration by Delta. Later, as Secretary of Defense, I saw the skills of our special operations forces in action from Panama to the Persian Gulf. And in my current role, serving with President Bush, I see regular evidence of your unparalleled skill, your ingenuity, and your daring. Every single day SOCOM confirms its reputation as a small command that produces big results for the United States of America.

Our country is proud to work in partnership with nations from every region of the globe, so I want to welcome the special operators and military representatives who have made the journey from other countries to attend this forum. I especially want to recognize the special operations officers who are here from Afghanistan and Iraq -- newly free nations that are standing up superb forces for the defense of their freedom. The United States has the greatest respect for the contributions you have made to our common security interests, and we're very pleased to have us with you this afternoon.

Today I've received a series of briefings from CENTCOM and SOCOM commanders on the status of many operations abroad. As always, I am thoroughly impressed by the focus and the professionalism of our fighting forces in all branches of the service, and the strong relationship they have built with host nations. Wartime conditions are a test of national resolve and military skill, and the biggest challenges come to the men and women who take the oath to serve. The people on duty for America in this war are reflecting tremendous credit on our nation, and they have earned the gratitude of us all.

Also this afternoon, I presented the Silver Star, Bronze Star, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, and a Distinguished Service Cross to special operators from the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. I consider it a great honor to award these medals -- but even more of an honor to have met the men who have earned them. To hear the citations is to be reminded of the absolute centrality of special operations for the global war on terror, and of the leadership, quick reactions, precision, and steadfastness that characterizes these elite, carefully selected warriors.

It was during the 1980s that the American government moved to create a separate Special Operations Command, and that decision has served us very well in the war on terror. When this conflict began nearly four years ago, President Bush told Congress and the country that, we should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen. It may, he said, "include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even when successful." Special ops have been vital to answering some of the fundamental challenges of this war -- fighting the enemy on its own turf; supplying a model for transformation, not only for our military, but also for coalition partners. In addition, special ops are showing the global perspective and the vigilance that will lead us to victory for the cause of freedom.

The terrorist enemy in this war includes small groups of highly motivated extremists, operating in the shadows, and determined to carry out missions of murder of increasing size and audacity. The terrorists are constantly attempting to evade our strengths and to search for our weaknesses, in order to find ways to strike once again. And the greatest danger to civilization is the prospect of a terror network, on its own or with the help of an outlaw government, acquiring weapons of mass destruction -- and thereby gaining the power to kill hundreds of thousands, and to blackmail entire nations. In the face of such a danger, free nations must act decisively to defend ourselves against attack. Yet we also understand that this war cannot be won on the defensive. In this new era, all civilized nations have a duty: We must defeat the terrorists, and we must not allow them to obtain weapons of mass murder.

Defeating the terrorists and their ambitions requires that we deny them sanctuary and support, and the United States is leading a global coalition in that effort. We are dealing with a network that has cells in countries all over the world. Yet bit by bit, by diplomacy, through intelligence cooperation, police work, and the spread of democratic institutions, we are acting to shrink the area in which the terrorists can operate freely. We have also enforced a doctrine that is understood by all: Governments that support or harbor terrorists are complicit in the murder of the innocent, and equally guilty of terrorist crimes. We gave ultimatums to the brutal regimes led by the Taliban and Saddam Hussein -- and when those regimes defied the demands of the civilized world, we acted to remove them from power and to liberate their people.

At every stage of this conflict, we have looked to the Special Operations Forces to carry out the most perilous, most technical, most time-sensitive, and least visible missions. When you have enemies that are hidden, diffuse, secret in their movements, asymmetrical in their tactics, the only alternative is to find out exactly where they are, and then to go in and get them -- one at a time, if necessary.

06-11-2005, 08:01
Vice President's Remarks at Closing Ceremonies of Socom's International Special Forces Week (part II)

In the Cold War, national security required massing large forces at borders, and a year-after-year stand-off. Today's security environment often requires small teams of men searching caves, going over mountain peaks, and walking along narrow ledges in the pitch-black night. And for that kind of work, we turn to the silent professionals.

In Operation Enduring Freedom, the first boots on the ground were special operations forces. As that campaign got underway in late 2001, we heard warnings that the obstacles would be extreme -- and indeed they were. Afghanistan, after all, is a landlocked country with a forbidding, mountainous terrain, and winter was setting in. The enemy force was widely scattered -- but well armed, protected in deep caves, and skilled in guerilla tactics. Added to that was the sheer mileage between our forces and out objective. Into that environment we sent the special operations, and in short order they figured out how to do it all.

Operating by their wits, their intelligence, and their cultural knowledge, they went to the far corners of Afghanistan, built relationships with anti-Taliban forces, engaged enemy holdouts, and designated high-value targets for the bombing campaign. They also linked the technology of the 21st century with the transportation modes of the ancient world -- riding horseback on wooden saddles, painting targets with lasers, and calling in precision air strikes from hundreds of miles away. In the space of about seven weeks, despite all the obstacles we understood going in, the regime was destroyed and the Afghan people were set free.

When our coalition moved to liberate the people of Iraq, special ops teams worked with Kurdish opposition forces to secure the northern front of the war, while in the west they took out scud launchers. Other coalition teams secured oil fields, dams, and bridges, converted roads into airstrips, called in air strikes against regime targets, and helped prepare the way for one of the largest combat parachute drops since the Second World War. Once again, the contributions of special ops were critical to the swift downfall of a regime -- and a strutting dictator went from a palace to a bunker to a spider hole to a prison cell.

We are still using special ops teams in Afghanistan and Iraq, as those nations continue on the road of security and self-rule. People in both countries have turned out in overwhelming numbers to elect their own leaders, and we are keeping our commitment to help these rising democracies achieve success. Terrorists will continue to wage their war against free institutions, and we will stand with Afghans and Iraqis in fighting them.

Today, special ops are working with Iraqi forces to determine where the insurgents are -- and then to carry out quick, decisive strikes against terror targets, as we have seen in Ramadi, Mosul, Baghdad, and on the Syrian border.

There has been hard fighting in Afghanistan as well, against Taliban remnants holed up in rugged parts of the country. Special ops teams are conducting search missions with the Afghan National Army. In the continuing hunt for al Qaeda, we have men working at high altitudes in the mountain range above Kandahar and Jalalabad -- often operating at the upper limits of human endurance -- moving calmly and patiently to deliver justice to the terrorists. And in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we are helping to train local security forces, so that those nations can eventually take on the responsibility for their own security.

In Iraq and Afghanistan -- and in other places where the fight against terror is less talked about, but still critical -- such as the Philippines, the Balkans, Colombia, and the Pan Sahel region of Africa -- special ops units have provided a glimpse of the kind of force we want to build for the future. A military that was designed for the mid-to-late 20th century needs to be a force that is lighter, more adaptable, more agile, and more lethal in action. Our country's military is going to build upon traditional advantages such as technological superiority, our ability to project force across great distances, and our precision strike capabilities. Our transformed military will stress rapid reaction and reward new thinking, breaking down old information stovepipes, and placing greater emphasis on jointness of operations.

The core of any military transformation is the competence, the creativity, and the flexibility of the men and women who serve. And there is no better model for how to proceed than special ops -- because you have always zeroed in on the practical questions of how to figure out a problem, move in quickly, get the job right -- done right, and then go on to the next mission.

Special ops also remind us of the global focus we need to win the battle against terror and weapons proliferation. SOCOM units have joined with special ops from almost every country represented here today, on a broad range of missions -- from counter-insurgency, to counter-narcotics, to interdiction of illicit materials, to having a ready response for the Olympic Games.

At this forum you've also discussed some of the ways terrorists and weapons or drug traffickers try to exploit the seams between governments, and how we can close up those seams through better communication and joint operations. This is going to be a critical challenge going forward, as we move against shadowy enemies in many countries and a variety of environments, from urban areas to jungle to desert.

Above all, in your patience, and endurance, and devotion to your missions, special ops remind us of the importance of vigilance. We have a long war ahead of us, and our enemies are waiting for us to let our guard down. But we will not relent in this effort, because we have the clearest possible understanding of what is at stake. Looking across this room, I see the diversity of our planet, but an identity of interests. None of us wants to turn over the future of mankind to tiny groups of fanatics committing indiscriminate murder and plotting large-scale horror. And so we must direct every resource necessary to defending the peace and freedom of our world, and the safety of the people we serve. That's the commitment of the United States that we've made to ourselves and to other nations. And with good allies at our side, we will see this cause through to victory.

The writer Tom Clancy once said of special ops forces, "Real toughness is between the ears, not in the biceps. You've got to see them to believe them." That really captures the idea. It is difficult to put into words the intensity of your training, the hazards of your hardest assignments, and the speed of thought and action that are needed at the tip of the spear. You are the ones who can go into unfamiliar territory and become part of the environment -- preparing battle spaces, learning languages and cultures, building relationships, and picking up intelligence. Special ops are the ones who hunt down, engage, kill and capture enemies, yet also set up hospitals, call in humanitarian aid, and help villages to become self-sufficient -- leaving behind you men, women, and children who feel gratitude for your kindness and good will for our country.

Special ops, it's been said play every role from warrior to physician to diplomat to engineer. And at times you have to switch from one role to other in the blink of an eye.

In this time of testing for our world, many in the military have faced long deployments -- and because special ops go so far forward, you very often go without regular contact with home or family. It's also in the nature of your business that the best work goes unrecognized until years after the fact, if ever. And we may never know all the grief that has been spared because of you. I can only say, with complete certainty, that your efforts are paying off -- and today all of us live in a world made safer by your actions.

Once again, I thank you for the opportunity to be with you this afternoon. Each one of you has taken up the noblest of callings -- the profession of arms -- and in that calling, you are force multipliers. President Bush and I know how hard you're working, and I promise you that this nation will never take your efforts for granted. And we are tremendously proud of each and every one of you. And on behalf of the entire nation, I want thank you all.

Bill Harsey
06-20-2005, 19:20
Thanks for posting all of that.

06-21-2005, 14:34
I did a short google search on MSG Hollenbaugh. Talk about cool under pressure!


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Heroism earns soldier high award
Master Sgt. Donald Hollenbaugh received the Army's second-highest honor for his actions during a battle in Fallujah, Iraq.

By Carrie Chicken of the Union-Bulletin

PRESCOTT - For two hours on April 26, 2004, Army Master Sgt. Donald Hollenbaugh dashed from one position to another on the roof of a house in the Northwest section of Fallujah, Iraq, amid exploding grenades and mortars.

When it was over, he was virtually the ``last man standing,' according to his father, Don Hollenbaugh of Prescott.

``What happened was my son ended up saving a lot of lives over there in a firefight. My son was very brave. He put himself in harm's way many times without any thought for his own safety, and took care of it,' his father said Monday.

A father's pride is a coveted award, but the younger Hollenbaugh was also decorated for bravery by his country.

Friday, he was awarded the second-highest decoration that can be earned by a member of the U.S. Army, the Distinguished Service Cross. It is presented for extraordinary heroism.

Vice President Dick Cheney presented the medal during a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.

Hollenbaugh is a 1982 graduate of Prescott High School. His wife, Lori, is a 1983 Walla Walla High School graduate. Her parents are Linda and Ed Weitz of Walla Walla.

Hollenbaugh, a 20-year Army veteran, and a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces for the past eight years, accompanied a platoon of Marines and seven Special Forces men to a position about 300 meters forward of the front lines during a battle in an insurgent stronghold.

The new day was showing first light when the first rocket propelled grenade struck in front of the two buildings they were in.

``I got a good sting from it. I only had one ear plug in, but I had my eye pro (protection) on, luckily,' he recalled during a phone interview from North Carolina on Monday night.

That grenade was the first of many launched at the Marines that day. When the American forces withdrew hours later, 24 of the 37 men with Hollenbaugh had been wounded, and one was killed. Eleven of the casualties were evacuated on litters, he said.

Hollenbaugh held a rooftop position on one of two buildings throughout the fight, which became ``a full-fledged attack,' with rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and other arms.

As the battle progressed, soldiers on the other building were the first wounded, and a medic on the
building with Hollenbaugh crossed through an alley to the other building and removed wounded soldiers while under heavy fire.

Eventually, only Hollenbaugh, another Special Forces soldier, and two Marines remained on the roof.

``A grenade came over our wall. When it exploded it was real close,' Hollenbaugh said. Both Marines sustained facial injuries. Hollenbaugh removed each wounded Marine from the roof, to the safety of a stairwell.

``That's when the other guy I was with said, `Hey Don, I'm hit.'

Hollenbaugh bandaged the man's wound, then sent him off the roof to the stairwell as another grenade landed.

``Now I'm on the roof by myself,' he said.

``I just went from firing position to firing position where we were. I would have to engage the enemy as they were coming. I kept doing that, back and forth, back and forth for a couple of hours,' Hollenbaugh said.

Eventually, his commanding officer appeared.

``Don, we've got to go,' he said.

It was only when Hollenbaugh and the officer began to make their way back to the front line, that Hollenbaugh realized how alone he had been.

The house he'd been protecting was empty, and he ran quite a distance before seeing other soldiers. ``That means I was up there alone for a while,' he said.

That realization was the only moment during the entire day when he felt unease.

``I never felt inadequate at any time, and there was no fear. I didn't have any fear,' he said.

``It had everything to do with the training I've had over the years. Each situation that came up was like a snapshot, like a picture, and I just dealt with each picture as it came up. If one picture interrupts the picture you're dealing with, you deal with the one that's most important as it comes up. That's exactly how I remember it, as a series of snapshots,' he said.

Hollenbaugh said the event has not had a long-range effect on him, although he had trouble sleeping for a few days following the battle.

``I doubt if I'll go see another war movie,' he said.

He has spent time reflecting on the incident. ``You get all those philosophical things to say, and I've thought of 10 million of them,' he said.

``For someone to be a hero, someone has to be in trouble, and there were several Marines in a lot of trouble that day,' he said.

The awards presented to Hollenbaugh and four others at the Special Forces heroism awards ceremony by Cheney represented a departure from secrecy that usually cloaks Special Forces personnel, according to a news release from the White House press office.

Calling them ``America's silent professionals' Cheney said in the news release that in the war on terrorism, ``special ops are the tip of the spear.'

Hollenbaugh recently retired from the Army, and is moving back to the Northwest to be closer to family.

He and Lori have two sons. Joshua, 19, is in basic training, and hopes to become part of the Special Forces program. Nathan, 16, ``swears he's going to follow in my tracks also. If that's what he wants to do, that's what I want him to do,' Hollenbaugh said.

``Our country is on the right road, and we are fighting this war for the right reasons. There are a lot of things that just because of security reasons normal Americans aren't exposed to. I want everybody to rest assured that we are doing the right thing. If we don't this war will end up on our soil,' Hollenbaugh said.

Roguish Lawyer
06-21-2005, 14:39
Well done, MSG!

Roguish Lawyer
06-26-2005, 18:48

June 23, 2005

Fort Bragg soldier recalls battle that won him high honor

By Kevin Maurer
The Fayetteville Observer / Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Master Sgt. Donald Hollenbaugh was the last man standing on the rooftop in Fallujah. The three men with him were down. Enemy fighters were creeping up.
It’s what he did then that won Hollenbaugh the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second-highest award for valor in combat.

Hollenbaugh, a Fort Bragg special operations soldier who has since retired from the military, received the medal from Vice President Dick Cheney in a ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., earlier this month.

Cheney said that Hollenbaugh’s award ceremony offered a rare glimpse into the world of special operations.

“It’s … in the nature of your business that the best work goes unrecognized until years after the fact, if ever,” he said. “And we may never know all the grief that has been spared because of you.”

Hollenbaugh was assigned to the headquarters of U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg. The Army typically uses that designation for soldiers in Delta Force, the secretive unit that specializes in high-risk missions.

The fight that led to the medal began April 26, 2004, about three weeks into an American offensive in the most volatile city in Iraq. Four American contractors had been killed, their bodies mutilated by insurgents.

The military was positioning itself to take back the city. Hollenbaugh and a platoon of Marines had taken over two houses on the outskirts of the city, about 300 yards in front of the American lines. Their mission was to set up lookout posts and spot insurgent positions.

What was supposed to be a simple mission turned into a fight for their lives as more than 300 enemy fighters poured into the area around the houses, Hollenbaugh said in a telephone interview this week.

“We didn’t expect the level of contact that came,” Hollenbaugh said.

When the American forces withdrew, 25 of the 37 men with Hollenbaugh had been wounded. One was killed. Eleven of the wounded were evacuated on stretchers.

Hollenbaugh helped hold off the enemy fighters while the wounded were evacuated. He turned “the tide of the enemy’s ground-force assault upon a U.S. Marine Corps Platoon,” according to the citation accompanying his medal.

When the soldiers set up in the houses, Hollenbaugh climbed to the roof of one of the three-story buildings. He heard the Muslim call to pray echo down the alleyways. He said he turned to one of his buddies and said he had a bad feeling.

“Oh boy, this is not going to be a good day,” he said. “This is how Somalia started. This could get ugly quick.”

But the fight started slowly. At dawn, the house where Hollenbaugh was set up was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade. No one was hurt.

A few minutes later, machine-gun fire rattled off the facade. The machine gun was followed by another rocket that hit near Hollenbaugh. He could feel the heat and flash on his face.

“I didn’t get hurt, but I only had one earplug in, so that stung,” he said.

What Hollenbaugh didn’t know at the time was the Iraqis were probing the American defenses. They believed that this was the start of an offensive on Fallujah, and hundreds of insurgents were headed to the fight.

For the next hour or so, Hollenbaugh said, the firing was sporadic. The insurgents would shoot and the Americans would fire back.

Then the house north of the one where Hollenbaugh was set up was hit by grenades, wounding several Marines. The blast started a fire on the roof, which caught an ammunition vest on fire and started to detonate several of the Marines’ 40 mm grenades.

A special operations medic on Hollenbaugh’s team raced across the street under heavy fire to treat the wounded.

By now, enemy fighters were along the walls of the building and moving up the alleyways. The Americans were pouring fire down the alleys and tossing grenades along the base of the building.

Hollenbaugh, another special operations soldier and two Marines were on top of the southern building. A grenade exploded on the roof. Hollenbaugh said he had time to duck into a stairwell, but the blast badly wounded the two Marines.

Hollenbaugh helped get them to cover. He said he also patched up the other special operations soldier, who had been hit by shrapnel in the arm and behind the ear.

Hollenbaugh was the only man standing.

“I was just running from hole to hole putting a few rounds here and there to make them feel like they were dealing with more than one guy,” he said.

A Humvee pulled up to take the wounded back to the American lines. A machine gun down an alley was firing at the medics. Hollenbaugh said he could barely see the gun, so he banked rounds off the walls of the alley to keep the gunner’s head down.

After everyone was evacuated, the Marine platoon leader told Hollenbaugh that it was time to go. Both men raced down the stairs and out of the empty house. Hollenbaugh said they linked up with the rest of the platoon a few houses away. It was at that point he realized he had been the only one still defending the house.

“I am glad someone did a head count,” Hollenbaugh said. “I didn’t calculate that I was alone.”

Hollenbaugh recommended the team’s medic for a medal. He was shocked that he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

“There was a lot of heroism that day,” he said. “I work with heroes every day.”