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Dan
06-25-2005, 18:10
3rd Special Forces Group soldiers' heroics are lauded

By Kevin Maurer and Henry Cuningham
Staff writers

Staff Sgt. David Colucci and Sgt. 1st Class Bradly Felix were awarded Silver Stars on Thursday for heroism in Afghanistan, as members of their unit are deploying to that country for the fourth time since 2003.

The 3rd Special Forces Group awarded three Silver Stars in a ceremony at Fort Bragg on Thursday. Sgt. 1st Class Roger Watts received the medal for saving the lives of two wounded tank crewmen in Karbala, Iraq, in 2004.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, members of the 3rd Group have seen action in Afghanistan and Iraq. The group, which has about 1,300 soldiers, is deploying to Afghanistan this summer for at least six months. The unit will work in small firebases throughout Afghanistan. Its previous Afghanistan rotations included two six-month stints 2004 and one in 2003.

Watts, Colucci and Felix took part in those deployments. They downplayed their work and said they were shocked when they were awarded Silver Stars.

"I didn't think my actions deserved it," Felix said. "I never thought I was going to get a medal."

Felix, an assistant operations and intelligence sergeant, was recognized for his role in a September 2004 rocket attack. His unit was patrolling the Mangretay Valley in the Paktika province in eastern Afghanistan when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his truck. Felix was wounded but was able to move the truck to shield other wounded soldiers. He organized a counterattack that broke up the ambush.

"I didn't think," he said. "The training just takes over."

A tribute

After the battle, Felix refused to get on a medical evacuation helicopter and led the patrol back to base. Two of his teammates were killed in the ambush.

He said the medal is a tribute to them.

"It keeps the memory of my fallen friends alive," he said.

On June 25, 2004, Colucci and his teammates were investigating reports of a roadside bomb near their camp in northeastern Afghanistan when they were ambushed. Colucci was hit in the abdomen but continued to maneuver his truck out of the kill zone. He helped hold off the insurgents so other members of his team could escape. He also helped secure a landing zone for the medevac helicopter. Colucci declined to speak to reporters after the ceremony.

About six weeks earlier, on the morning of May 12, 2004, Watts led a four-man team in the city of Karbala, Iraq, to help a platoon of soldiers from the 1st Armored Division that had been pinned down by insurgents.

Watts and his men were taking cover in a doorway when Watts saw a tank commander and another crew member cut down by rocket-propelled grenade and machine-gun fire. A rocket-propelled grenade sheared off the tank commander's arm.

Watts said he ran to help. "You don't want to see another American out there," he said.

Watts stabilized the wounded soldiers under heavy fire and took command of the tank, directing it to attack. Watts continued to command the tank and care for the wounded during several more enemy assaults.

"He had quite a day over there," said Watts' father, Gary, after the ceremony. "We are very proud. We couldn't be more proud."

Sgt. 1st Class Watts said he was just doing his job. The medal means more to his teammates than to him, he said. "They look at it as something we accomplished," he said.

Watts and Felix are assigned to the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School on Fort Bragg and will not be part of the current 3rd Group deployment.

Many of the 3rd Group soldiers have deployed several times already. They know the terrain of Afghanistan and key people there. But during a change of command ceremony last month, Col. Patrick Higgins, 3rd Group's commander, warned his men not to be too confident.

"We cannot give in to combat arrogance," he said. "It's a different scenario, a different political environment."

Their first deployments focused on hunting down Taliban fighters and training the Afghan national army. Last year, members of the group helped secure Afghanistan's first national election, and this fall they will help secure its first parliamentary election.

"The sound of victory over there that we want to hear is not going to be explosive ordnance going off," Higgins said. "It's going to be the sound of ballots dropping in a ballot box."

Staff writer Kevin Maurer can be reached at maurerk@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3587.

Military editor Henry Cuningham can be reached at cuninghamh@fayettevillenc.com or 486-3585.

Medal citations
Three soldiers from the 3rd Special Forces group received Silver Stars for bravery in combat Thursday. Following are excerpts from the medal citations:

Sgt. 1st Class Bradly M. Felix

Felix was an assistant operations and intelligence sergeant on patrol in the Paktika Province in eastern Afghanistan when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his vehicle, disabling it and wounding the entire crew. Despite being wounded, Felix positioned his truck to shield the other wounded soldiers. He then organized a counterattack. After the battle, Fleix refused to get on the medical evacuation helicopter and led the patrol back to base. He was eventually evacuated to the United States for treatment.

Sgt. 1st Class Roger G. Watts

Watts, a medical sergeant, saved the lives of two critically injured tank crewman in Iraq. On the morning of May 12, 2004, Special Forces soldiers were sent to help a platoon from the 1st Armored Division that had been pinned down by Iraqi insurgents occupying a shrine. Watts led his four-man team to the shrine, where there was an intense gun battle. The Special Forces soldiers were able to secure the area, but the insurgents counterattacked several times. Watts saw a tank commander and another crew member get cut down by rocket-propelled grenade and machine gun fire. Watts rushed to the tank under intense fire, stabilized the wounded and took command of the tank, directing it to fire on the insurgents. Watts continued to command the tank and care for the wound during several more enemy assaults.

Staff Sgt. David G. Colucci

On June 25, 2004, Colucci, an engineering sergeant, and his team were notified that insurgents had planted a roadside bomb several miles east of the team’s camp near the town of Manogay in northeastern Afghanistan. He and his team members went to get rid of the bomb and were ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns, and small arms fire. Colucci was hit in the stomach, but managed to maneuver his vehicle out of the "kill zone" and help secure a landing zone for the medical evacuation helicopter.

Dan
06-25-2005, 18:11
Philip R. Kensinger, Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Special Operation Command, presents the Silver Star to Sgt. 1st Class Bradly M. Felix, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) for actions under fire while in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. Three Silver Stars were presented to three Soldiers during a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C June 23, 2005. (Army photo by Gillian M. Albro, USASOC PAO)

Bill Harsey
06-25-2005, 19:17
Congratulations to the Men of Third Group.

Well Done.

Roguish Lawyer
06-25-2005, 19:59
I knew there was a reason Third Group hasn't voted even once in my poll. They're busy. DOL

The Reaper
06-25-2005, 20:47
I knew there was a reason Third Group hasn't voted even once in my poll. They're busy. DOL

They are also the newest of the Groups, and anyone in before 1990 or so started in another Group.

Look at their flash. They are all from somewhere else, up till then.

TR

Doc
06-25-2005, 22:02
Gen K was COL K and CDR of 3rd Herd back in the day.

DOL

Doc

NousDefionsDoc
06-26-2005, 16:09
DOL

Max_Tab
06-29-2005, 05:39
[B]

Its previous Afghanistan rotations included two six-month stints 2004 and one in 2003.



03 and 04? Then where the hell was I in 02? Wherever it was it was sure windy dusty, and I was surrounded by people who didn't like me.

Maybe they just forgot one of the deployments.

Good job Brad, I lost two friends that day.

Dan
06-29-2005, 09:07
03 and 04? Then where the hell was I in 02? Wherever it was it was sure windy dusty, and I was surrounded by people who didn't like me.

Maybe they just forgot one of the deployments.

Good job Brad, I lost two friends that day.

They are both civilian staff writers...

Dan
06-29-2005, 20:26
RELEASE NUMBER: 050628-02
DATE POSTED: JUNE 29, 2005

Steadfast SF Soldiers awarded Silver Star
By April Rowden
Paraglide

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, June 29, 2005) — A hesitant host-nation army, an unexpected leadership role and a gunshot wound to the abdomen didn’t stop three Special Forces Soldiers from protecting their comrades during enemy attacks in Iraq and Afghanistan last year.

Sgts. 1st Class Bradly M. Felix and Roger G. Watts, and Staff Sgt. David G. Colucci, all assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), stood before more than 60 guests at a Valor Awards Ceremony June 28, 2005 at U. S. Army Special Operations Command here as Lt. General Philip Kensinger, USASOC commander, awarded each the Silver Star.

Listening to the retelling of their fearless actions was emotional for the Soldiers.

“It was humbling because I have two buddies not with me anymore,” Felix said of the Sept. 20, 2004 ambush in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, where he rallied Afghan National Army Soldiers to fire back on the ambushing anti-coalition militia. “But at the same time I’m honored.”

The award keeps the memory of his fallen comrades alive, Felix said.

For Watts, the ceremony was an opportunity to recall the May 12, 2004, firefight near Karbala, Iraq, where, while serving as the senior medical sergeant and assault cell leader, he left his own vehicle to administer life-saving aid while under intense mortar and small-arms fire to two crew members of a disabled tank. He then assumed command of the tank.

Modest about their awards, Felix and Watts, both instructors at Camp Mackall, said they have incorporated their combat experiences into the training scenarios used to indoctrinate potential Special Forces Soldiers.

Recognizing the importance of first-hand knowledge in this unconventional war, Watts said he “wants to make sure I can pass my experience to the junior guys.”

Telling the audience they were in the company of heroes, Col. Patrick M. Higgins, commander of the 3rd SFG, praised the men for braving hostile fire, repelling assaults, deflecting ambushes and being upstanding men.

The men, however, say they feel they did nothing extraordinary or worthy of receiving the fourth highest medal in the Army.

“It was instinctive,” asserts Felix, who has been in three near ambushes. “The training kicks in and you do what you need to do.”

“The medal means a lot to the team as a whole because it’s a reflection of the team,” said Watts, insisting his individual actions didn’t deserve an award. “If it wasn’t for their support, it could have been a different outcome that night.”

No lives were lost in the Karbala attack.

Colucci was awarded the Silver Star for his unwavering bravery during an ambush in Afghanistan June 25, 2004. He was serving as the senior engineer sergeant.

While conducting a recovery operation of an improvised explosive device, Colucci’s convoy came under attack. Although he suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen, Colucci maneuvered his vehicle into a protective position and pulled security for his fellow Soldiers until reinforcements arrived. He then manned the door gunner machinegun while his element moved into a secure area to wait for medical evacuation.

The Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.


-usasoc-

Viking
07-05-2005, 01:05
Congratulations guys, well deserved.
Brad, I saw you that day and I'm proud to know that you were awarded for it. Thank you.