Task Force 10 operators garner awards
Special Operations Forces personnel from the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 321st Special Tactics Squadron, and Special Operations Command Europe, gathered on Patch Barracks to witness the presentation of two Silver Star Medals, 11 Bronze Star Medals with Valor, and one Army Commendation Medal with Valor during a ceremony conducted on June 13.
Master Sgt. William “Joe” Dickinson and Staff Sgt. Adam Dorner, both of 1/10 SFG (A), were formally presented their Silver Star Metals by Adm. Eric Olson, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, in the Patch Community Club.
Olson praised the families of the SOF community for their roles in supporting their operators.
“This has to be a family affair,” Olson said. “The Soldiers and Airmen are not who they are without the family support behind them, so it’s great for them to be here. I recognize that every time we ask something of the service member, we are asking just as much of the unit infrastructure — the families. It is their sacrifices that make these missions possible, and I thank you all.”
As part of the ceremony, a personal video from International Security Assistance Force Commander Gen. David Petraeus was presented to the audience that highlighted the overall courage of the Soldiers and Airmen, and recognized the success of Task Force 10 through its continuous rotation of Special Operations Forces to support the ISAF mission.
Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, SOCEUR commander, also praised the men for their actions on the battlefield. “They are men who are humble in their daily life, yet extraordinary in every aspect of combat,” he said. “These are men of deeds and not words.”
Addressing the packed audience of nearly 300 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, family members and civilians, Repass said he was reminded of a famous quote in the book “The Bridges at Toko-Ri,” by James Michener, in which the hero questions aloud, “Where do we get such men?”
In answering, Repass said, “I don’t know, but our services are certainly turning them out and they’re in our ranks.”
Right place, right time
One of the Silver Star recipients, Dickinson, an operations sergeant to U.S. Special Operations Task Unit 0112, Special Operations Task Force 10, distinguished himself by exceptional heroism while engaged in direct combat against invading insurgent forces at Bagram Airfield on May 19, 2010.
Realizing the base was under attack, Dickinson and his five-man team gathered their weapons and body armor, and maneuvered — while exposed to enemy rocket-propelled grenade and tracer fire — toward the inner perimeter wall 120 meters away.
“We gathered our weapons and equipment; it took us a little while to get there,” Dickinson said. “The AH-64s were on sight pretty fast, and there was some dangerous[ly] close 30mm fire going on. I knocked a few [insurgents] down.”
Dickinson then led two other team members to the outer perimeter wall, evading grenades being thrown by enemy forces on the other side.
Countering with their own grenades, Dickinson and his team observed that the three insurgents from their first engagement were dressed in U.S. uniforms and equipped with suicide vests, hand grenades, RPGs and AK-47 assault rifles.
“Once we got a handle on the situation and saw that they were in ACUs, I knew that was going to be a problem — a really bad problem, as they were not quickly identifiable to friendly forces on Bagram,” Dickinson said. “So I made the decision to go outside the outer wall, because the guard towers didn’t cover all the dead space.”
Though exposed to enemy observation, Dickinson led four other team members over the wall, where they noticed an insurgent attempting to detonate a suicide vest; the insurgent was killed by Dickinson’s team before detonating. The team was then informed that 20 insurgents were reportedly massing 800 meters southwest of their position. Realizing the imminent threat, the SOTU 0112 team leader organized a voluntary patrol of 13 Soldiers to counter the enemy’s attack.
Dickinson took point in the front, skirting the BAF perimeter to close with and engage the assaulting enemy. During the patrol, one of the patrol members stepped on an anti-personnel mine and was severely injured. Without hesitation, Dickinson ran 20 meters from the front of the patrol to give first aid and saved the life of the Soldier.
After helping to extract the Soldier over the wall, he then grabbed a mine detector from an engineer on the perimeter, scaled the wall a final time, and cleared a path for the four patrol members still in harm’s way.
When asked for his definition of valor, Dickinson simply said, “Valor is just doing something hard when you have to.”
The other Silver Star Medal recipient, Dorner, a weapons sergeant for SOTU 0116, SOTF 10, distinguished himself by valorous actions against the enemy while deployed to Logar Province, Afghanistan. On Aug. 17, 2010, SOTU 0116 was enabling 20 Afghan Nation Security Forces members to perform route reconnaissance along Route New York.
While moving, the unit discovered a pressure-plate Improvised Explosive Device ahead of the convoy. While clearing the IED, the patrol found itself in a complex ambush, engaged by 10-12 insurgents occupying two fighting positions 300 meters to the east. The enemy opened fire with 82mm mortars, RPGs, PKM light machine guns and AK-47 assault rifles against the team.
“Me and two other teammates were on a flanking element pulling outside security when my gun went down,” said Dorner, who was out in the open during the attack when his weapon malfunctioned.
Dorner realized the SOTU’s 60mm mortar was essential to continue the fight and repel the enemy, so with disregard for his own life, he ran over 150 meters south through flat, open terrain paralleling enemy fighting positions to reach the SOTU’s RG-33 vehicle and mortar system.
Despite the RPG rounds detonating within 30 meters of his location, Dorner emplaced the mortar tube and delivered 10 accurate, high-explosive rounds on the insurgent positions. As a direct result, the team was able to reorganize and direct maneuver elements into position, and request emergency close air support.
Informed that the AH-64 Air Weapons Team overhead was unable to effectively target the enemy positions, the team assessed the only way to eliminate the insurgents was by direct assault.
“We just started assaulting through the objective,” said Dorner, who fearlessly took point of his element and led an assault across 300 meters of open terrain. “The enemy actually reinitiated two or three times with machine gun fire. But once we started taking the fight to them, they began to quit. We won the day that day.”
Reflecting on the actions which led to his recognition, Dorner said, “Running through 300 meters of open ground and enemy machine gun fire is not something that a lot of guys jump at the opportunity to do. When you have 100 percent confidence in the guys you have to give you the fire and cover you need, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
“We’re supposed to be a well-oiled machine, and on that day we proved [we are].”
Other valor award recipients were:
• Capt. Craig Bighouse, Bronze Star with Valor
• Sgt. 1st Class Michael Murray, Bronze Star with Valor
• Sgt. 1st Class McKenna Miller, Bronze Star with Valor
• Sgt. 1st Class Rod Reschel, Bronze Star with Valor
• Staff Sgt. Sabriel Ashley, Bronze Star with Valor
• Staff Sgt. Robert “Al” Murray, Bronze Star with Valor
• Staff Sgt. Patrick Roberts, Bronze Star with Valor
• Staff Sgt. Richard Telck, Bronze Star with Valor
• Air Force Staff Sgt. David Ibsen, Bronze Star with Valor
• Air Force Staff Sgt. Theodore Hofknecht, Bronze Star with Valor
• Pfc. William Langley, Bronze Star with Valor
• Staff Sgt. Ricky Streeter, Army Commendation Medal with Valor.