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Soldiers Awarded for Egyptian Hostage Rescue

American Forces Press Service

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq, April 8, 2005 – One soldier received a Bronze Star and eight received the Army Commendation Medal April 5 for rescuing two Egyptian hostages from terrorists in Baghdad Feb. 7.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Command Sgt. Maj. Ralph Borja, 10th Mountain Division command sergeant major, congratulates Sgt. 1st Class Michael Carlan and other soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, at their April 5 award ceremony for rescuing two Egyptian hostages from terrorists Feb. 7.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

Maj. Gen. Lloyd Austin III, 10th Mountain Division commander, presided over the ceremony and congratulated the soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, for a job well done.

"They are rewarded for doing what they are supposed to do," Austin said. "In doing so, they saved lives. I'm grateful for the way you helped this division and the Army."

Four Egyptians working for the mobile cell phone company Iraqna were kidnapped Feb 6. Less than 24 hours later, soldiers from 2nd Battalion's B Battery saved two hostages and detained two terrorists after they pulled over a suspicious vehicle while on a routine patrol in their area of operations.

First Lt. David Lucas, a battery platoon leader noticed a vehicle sagging low to the ground. Believing it to be a possible vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, Lucas ordered his convoy to stop the vehicle.

"I told my driver to cut them off so we can search them," said the Knoxville, Tenn., native. "Before we even stopped, they stopped. Two guys jumped out and bolted in opposite directions."

The convoy gave chase to the terrorists. One managed to escape, while the other was detained with assistance from an Iraqi civilian.

"An Iraqi ran out and yelled at me in the turret and showed us where the road was," said Spc. Jeremy Arneman, a gunner from Erie, Penn.

The terrorist ran around the corner and the soldiers dismounted and chased after him. Spc. Stephen A. Rivera, a convoy driver from Miami, Fla., was close enough to him and raised his rifle.

"He was in the middle of the road and I yelled, 'Stop!'" Rivera said. "He turned around and saw how close I was to him and stopped. I went up to him and he got on his knees."

While his soldiers pursued the terrorists, Lucas and the soldiers in his Humvee detained a terrorist who remained in the vehicle. Sergeant 1st Class Michael Carlan, a platoon leader from Dahlonega, Ga., had the detainee open all the doors and finally the trunk. Carlan approached the trunk expecting a VBIED, but instead found two people blindfolded and handcuffed.

The hostages, later revealed to be two of the four kidnapped Egyptian workers, were elated to be freed from their captors, said Staff Sgt. Joey Washington, a squad leader from Raleigh, N.C.

"One guy was so happy we found him, he came up and kissed my hands," he said.

"It's the best feeling in the world knowing we saved two guys' lives," Arneman said. "It makes the job worth doing."

The hostages were eventually released to the Egyptian Embassy. The other two Egyptian workers were rescued later in the day, Lucas said.

Lucas received the Bronze Star for his part in the rescue. Carlan, Washington, Arneman and Rivera received the Army Commendation Medal for their contributions as well as Staff Sgt. Miguel Guzman El Paso, Texas; Pfc. Jose Atilano, Prosser, Wash.; Pfc. Billy Bailey, Brookland, Texas; and Pfc. Jose Santos, Cidra, Puerto Rico.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

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