Bush, Abizaid Recognize Afghans, U.S. Soldiers for Heroism
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 20, 2007 Two Afghan nationals and five American soldiers received recognition from President Bush and U.S. Central Command’s top officer for heroism in preventing a driver from carrying out a suicide bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, in January.
Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, recognizes Task Force Phoenix soldiers for heroic efforts in preventing a vehicle loaded with explosives from detonating inside the front gate of Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. From left are Army Staff Sgt. William Strobeck, Sgts. Brian Bailey and Mathew Sisson, and Spcs. Justin Carry and Linza Hampton. U.S. Army photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
In a Feb. 15 address to the nation, Bush pointed to the heroism demonstrated during the Jan. 10 incident as an example of how U.S. and Afghan forces are working together to create a safer, more secure environment for Afghanistan.
The following day, Army Gen. John Abizaid, commander of U.S. Central Command, praised the troops during a ceremony at the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan headquarters and presented the Combat Action Badge to the troops involved.
U.S. troops receiving the award were: Army Staff Sgt. William Strobeck, Sgts. Brian Bailey and Mathew Sisson, and Spcs. Justin Carry and Linza Hampton.
"Through the quick minds and patriotic sense of duty, these brave men were able to stop a bad situation from getting worse," Abizaid said during the award ceremony.
Bush reflected on the incident during an address about progress in Afghanistan and the global war on terror. When a vehicle loaded with explosives attempted to crash through the front gate of Camp Phoenix, a U.S. base in Kabul, two Afghans employed at the camp rushed the vehicle. They helped U.S. soldiers restrain the suspect and drag him from the vehicle as security forces, with assistance from the Afghan National Police and NATO International Security Assistance Force soldiers, cordoned the area. As explosives ordnance disposal team worked to disarm the bomb, it detonated.
The president pointed to the efforts of one of the Afghans involved, nicknamed “Rambo,” as an example of how the Afghan people are stepping up to protect their country.
“This fellow did not hesitate,” Bush said of Rambo. “He jumped in the car, and he prevented the terrorist from exploding the device. He saw somebody who was about to harm our citizens, our troops; he then jumps into the car and stops the attack. A U.S. Army sergeant then responded (and) helped him pull the guy out of the car.”
Bush went on to quote one of the U.S. soldiers who was at the scene. "He saved our lives,” the soldier said. “I promised him I'd name my firstborn son after him." Joking, the president added, “The guy is hoping for a boy.”
The president called the incident “a human story” that speaks of courage, alliance and respect for life. “To me, it's a story that says these people in Afghanistan want to do what is necessary to survive and succeed, and it's in our interest to help them,” he said.
Abizaid pointed to the incident as an example of hope for Afghanistan’s future. "Afghanistan will never be lost, when we work together as we did on that day," he said. "I am proud to be here, and I would like to thank you for what you did."
Bush said he’s proud that the United States helped liberate 25 million Afghans. “We should be proud to stand alongside the people of Afghanistan, the newly liberated Afghanistan,” he said. “And I know we're all proud of the men and women who have helped liberate that country -- the men and women who wear our uniform who helped liberate that country and continue to make the sacrifices necessary.”
(From a Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan news release.)