101st Airborne Division Soldier Receives Silver Star
American Forces Press Service
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Feb. 11, 2004 A 101st Airborne Division soldier who, despite being critically wounded himself, repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to treat wounded comrades in Iraq received the Silver Star here Feb. 5.
Pvt. Dwayne Turner, a combat medic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, provided life-saving medical care to 16 fellow soldiers April 13 when his unit came under a grenade and small-arms attack 30 miles south of Baghdad.
The Silver Star awarded to 101st Airborne Division combat medic Pvt. Dwayne Turner Feb. 5 is the highest award given to any 101st soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom thus far. The air assault division is in the midst of returning to Fort Campbell, Ky., after a year's deployment to Iraq. The last division convoy rolled across the border into Kuwait Feb. 10. A 10-soldier contingent assigned to Mosul Airfield is all that remains of the 101st in Iraq; they are slated to leave Iraq later in February.
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Turner and two other medics from Company A of that battalion were part of a work detail that came under attack as they unloaded supplies in a makeshift operations center.
"I moved to (my vehicle) just before the first grenade came over the wall," Turner said. "The blast threw me even further into the vehicle, and I took on some shrapnel."
Ignoring his own injuries, Turner ran to the front of his vehicle and saw a soldier with eye injuries.
"I checked him out, and tried to get him into a building," Turner said. The other two medics established a triage system under the cover of a building while Turner ran back outside to bring more soldiers into the makeshift clinic.
"I just started assessing the situation, seeing who was hurt, giving them first aid and pulling them into safety," he said, downplaying his actions on that day.
Turner, his legs wounded by shrapnel in the initial attack, was shot at least twice while giving first aid to the soldiers.
"I didn't realize I was shot," he said. "A couple of times, I heard bullets going by, but I thought they were just kicking up rocks on me."
At one point during the attack, one of Turner's fellow medics told him he was bleeding. "Someone told me, 'Doc Turner, Doc Turner, you're bleeding.'" he said. "I looked down at my leg and saw I was bleeding, and kind of said, 'Oh hell, if I'm not dead yet, I guess I'm not dying.'"
"I don't think he realized how much blood he lost," said Sgt. Neil Mulvaney, from the same unit as Turner.
"After I got the first patient inside the building, I sort of slumped down in the corner," Turner said. "I didn't think there was any way we were going to get out of there, and it would have been really easy to just stay in that corner.
"Then I heard (the wounded) calling for medics," he continued, "and I realized I could let them continue to get hurt -- and possibly die -- and not come home to their families, or I could do something about it."
Turner chose to do something about it. He continued to give first aid and to bring soldiers in from the barrage of gunfire outside the compound until he finally collapsed against a wall from loss of blood. A bullet had broken his right arm. He had been shot in the left leg. Shrapnel had torn into both of his legs.
The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in combat, but Turner does not see himself as a hero.
"Nobody gets left behind," he said emphatically. "We were the medical personnel on hand. You're not relieved from your duty until someone comes. No one else was going to get the job done, so we did."
Although Turner downplays his heroism, the Army believes that at least two of the 16 soldiers he treated would have died had he not been there.
"He risked his life for 16 other men without noticing his own injuries - that's heroism in my book," Mulvaney said.
"I was just doing my job," Turner insisted. "As far as the values of the Army, it's not to 'earn' a Silver Star; it's to uphold what you signed on for. Other people may see me as a hero; I see myself as doing my job. No one is going to die on my watch."
Turner's Silver Star is the highest award given to any 101st soldier during Operation Iraqi Freedom thus far. He received the Purple Heart in July.
(Based on a release from the Fort Campbell, Ky., Public Affairs Office.)