Gallantry, heroism recognized during Valor Ceremony

Five Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), were honored for their gallantry and heroism in a Valor Ceremony held on Patch Barracks Dec. 6, 2011.

 Capt. David Fox, Sgt. 1st Class McKenna “Frank” Miller and Staff Sgt. Matthew Gassman received Silver Stars, the U.S. Armed Forces’ third highest awards for gallantry in combat, for their heroic actions on Dec. 17, 2010 in Kapisa Province, Afghanistan in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Musgrave was awarded the military’s fourth highest award for gallantry in combat, the Bronze Star with Valor Device, as well as the Purple Heart for his actions and wounds received from the enemy on May 17, 2010, while deployed to Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

For risking his life to save 35 German citizens from a Böblingen apartment fire during the early morning hours on July 3, 2011, Spc. Willie Smith Jr. was awarded the Soldier’s Medal, the U.S. military’s highest peacetime award for heroism.

During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Michael S. Repass, commander, U.S. Special Operations Command Europe, said the men being recognized would probably never tell their stories due to their humility.

 “These are real live friends, neighbors, teammates — people who we know,” Repass said. “They will humbly admit that they had the opportunity to act outside the line of duty, beyond the orders of superiors and perform an act of conspicuous bravery.”   

At the conclusion of the ceremony, U.S. European Command Commander Adm. James G. Stavridis praised not only the awardees, but the entire Special Operations Forces community.

“Special Forces are the best planners we have,” Stavridis said. “But then when chaos descends, that’s when these extraordinary people stand and deliver. It’s really about bringing order to chaos, about saving your comrades and about, above all, standing for something larger than yourself. That is pretty spectacular.”