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Battalion's Heroism Honored

By Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Feb. 9, 2005 – The 1st Cavalry Division's 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, together with a company of Oregon National Guard Soldiers, rounded out their service in Iraq with the presentation of heroic medals Feb. 8 here.

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1st Cavalry Division commander Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli awards Sgt. Matthew Zedwick, of Corvallis, Ore., the Silver Star Medal Feb. 8 for his heroic actions under enemy attack. Despite being wounded and under heavy small arms fire from the enemy, Zedwick saved the life of his squad leader when he pulled him from a burning vehicle after they were hit with a roadside bomb. Zedwick then sheltered the wounded soldier with his own body when a second bomb exploded. After carrying the soldier to safety, Zedwick returned to the flaming vehicle through the enemy's assault and attempted to retrieve the body of the gunner who was mortally wounded. The Silver Star Medal is the third highest award for gallantry among Army awards. Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA

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Division commander Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli bestowed 13 Purple Heart Medals, 10 Bronze Star Medals with "V" Device, for valor and two Silver Star Medals for heroic actions and distinctive gallantry in the face of the enemy while serving in Iraq.

"To pin Silver Stars to great soldiers is an unbelievable honor," Chiarelli said. "We have heroes amongst us today."

Chiarelli said no battalion in his division had been asked to do more in Iraq than the battle-hardened 2-7 Cavalry. The celebrated battalion spearheaded some of the division's most difficult battles in Iraq.

"You have truly borne the brunt of some of the toughest fighting the 1st Cavalry Division has had to contend with," said Command Sgt. Maj. Neil Ciotola. "Every accolade you reap, you so aptly deserve."

The battalion began its Iraq chronicle in Taji, a city just 20 miles north of Baghdad. In August it was called upon to help the Marines, along with Iraqi security forces, take back control of the holy city of Najaf from Muqtada's al- Sadr's militia.

The terrorists used the country's second oldest city as a stronghold for anti- Iraqi activity before soldiers swept through, waging an intense two-week, inner-city urban fight.

In November, the battalion again took the lead in another operation outside of Baghdad: to the city of Fallujah with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. Fighting with the Marines and the Iraqi Army, they cleared out the former terrorist bastion, going house to house, in some of the bloodiest fighting since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

As the battalion soldiers round out their yearlong 'boots on the ground' and prepare for home, Chiarelli told the troops they played a key role in great historical events, many that they still have yet to fully realize.

"Someday people will ask, 'At what point did the Middle East turn to democracy?'" said Chiarelli. "They will point to [the Iraqi national election on] Jan. 30, 2005. It was the tipping point."

(Army Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns is assigned to the 39th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs.)

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2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAwards, neatly aligned, wait to be given Feb. 8 to soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, for their acts of bravery over the past year in Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebekah-mae Bruns, USA  
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