During World War II, Lt. Col. Robert T. Frederick commanded the First Special Service Force “Black Devils.” He personally selected recruits who were strong, relentless and independent thinkers.
Today, Frederick’s namesake award is presented to both Canadian and American Special Forces operators who exhibit the qualities Frederick sought. This year’s American recipient is Master Sgt. Joe Dickinson, a Green Beret from 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). This is the second consecutive year the award has gone to a 1/10 SFG (A) Soldier.
Dickinson accepted the award during the 63rd annual First Special Service Force reunion, held Aug. 13-16 in Helena, Mont., but viewed it as a team honor.
“The Frederick Award is an individual award, but you don’t do a lot of the things you do without strong people on your team,” Dickinson said.
Dickinson earned the award for his performance as the operations sergeant for Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha 0112. In the award nomination, he was praised for leading “one of the most successful detachment combat rotations in the history of Task Force-10 in support of the International Security Assistance Force Afghanistan.”
Having deployed into theater without a team leader, Dickinson expertly managed not only his team of U.S. Special Forces Soldiers, but also the integration of 12 Romanian special forces soldiers.
Dickinson was able to lead his men in developing critical relationships with local and regional Afghanistan government officials, Afghan National Security Forces and ISAF senior leadership.
He was significantly praised for actions on Dec. 27, 2009, in which he led his ODA on a mission through an insurgent stronghold, while enemy forces attempted to overrun his team.
During an hour of intense fighting, Dickinson and company killed six enemy forces and received no casualties. For his actions, he was recommended for the Bronze Star with Valor.
On the morning of May 19, 2010, when Taliban fighters conducted a sudden, well-coordinated, complex attack on Bagram Airfield, Dickinson and four members of his team engaged the insurgents to repel the attack. Dickinson then ran 25 meters across a potential mine field to provide life-saving medical treatment to a wounded Marine.
Dickinson was recommended for the Silver Star Medal. However, garnering medals is not something for which Dickinson and his team strive.
“It was a very difficult situation and we moved very quickly,” Dickinson said. “We were not thinking about valor or awards, just that we had each other’s back if one of us was taken out.”
Dickinson’s company commander sees the award recipient as symbolic of what it means to be a Special Forces noncommissioned officer.
“Joe never took unnecessary risks and always had the interest of his team members, while at the same time inflicting high numbers of enemy casualties and protecting the local Afghan populace,” the company commander said.