Bush Honors 82nd Airborne Division Soldiers’ Courage, Sacrifice
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 22, 2008 President Bush today honored the courage, sacrifice and service of several 82nd Airborne Division soldiers who served with distinction in Afghanistan and Iraq.
During a ceremony at Fort Bragg, N.C., Bush made posthumous awards of the Distinguished Service Cross to Sgt. Charles Wyckoff’s wife, Erika, and the Silver Star medal to Barbara Walsh, mother of Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Sebban. The Distinguished Service Cross is the highest military award after the Medal of Honor. The Silver Star is the third highest military award.
“America is fortunate to have courageous men and women who volunteer to protect us during these dangerous times,” Bush said.
The president also presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Spcs. Christopher Corriveau and Eric Moser, and Silver Star medals to Sgts. 1st Class Ronald Strickland and William Tomlin and Staff Sgt. Peter Rohrs.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Carswell was recognized as the division’s 2008 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, and Spc. Russell Danley Jr. as the division’s 2008 Trooper of the Year.
Bush acknowledged that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been long and difficult. But, he emphasized, they both are necessary missions that greatly contribute to America’s security.
Specifically, achieving victory over terrorists in Iraq would demonstrate to the world “that America does not withdraw, does not retreat, does not back down in the face of terror, and that will make us safer here in the United States,” he said.
“When the history books are written,” Bush added, “they will show that this generation of heroes was as great as any in the history of our nation. They will show that America refused to shrink in the face of terror.
“They will show that America prevailed.”
Information on the soldiers and their awards follows:
-- Sebban, of 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry (Airborne Reconnaissance), earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action on March 17, 2007, as a senior medic in Iraq. Sebban safeguarded the lives of 86 paratroopers during a suicide-car-bomb attack on a combat outpost. Sebban noticed a civilian truck accelerating toward the compound laden with explosives. Stepping from behind a Humvee, he moved toward the vehicle and warned his fellow paratroopers of the impending attack yelling three times until the explosion from the vehicle knocked him down. Although mortally wounded by shrapnel injuries to his abdomen, groin and legs, Sebban immediately moved to the aid station to begin treating his fellow wounded paratroopers until he collapsed and succumbed to his wounds. Sebban’s valiant actions prevented enemy insurgent forces from overrunning his position and caused the enemy element to retreat. Sebban enlisted in the Army in March 2000 and was from Neshanic Station, N.J.
-- Wyckoff, of 3rd Platoon, C Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry, earned the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action. He distinguished himself on June 6, 2007, as a rifle team leader in Afghanistan. While engaged in close combat against enemy forces, Wyckoff left his covered position without hesitation to force other members of his team to take cover. Wyckoff revealed his position and fatally engaged two insurgents to save the lives of his platoon. Wyckoff enlisted in the Army in June 2004 and was from Chula Vista, Calif.
-- Corriveau and Moser, both of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, received the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in action. Corriveau was part of a four-man sniper team, and Moser was a designated marksman. They distinguished themselves on Aug. 26, 2007, in Iraq. Surrounded and attacked by an enemy force 10 times superior to their own, the men and their fellow paratroopers valiantly repelled the enemy attack with withering small-arms fire and grenades, according to their award citations. Their sniper team fought off an overwhelming enemy force for control of the rooftop for more than 10 minutes in close combat, killing or wounding at least 10 enemies in the process. Corriveau enlisted in the Army in May 2005 and is from Lewiston, Maine. Moser enlisted in the U.S. Army in January 2005 and is from Tomball, Texas.
-- Rohrs, Company C, 3-82nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action Nov. 9, 2007, while serving as a flight medic in Afghanistan. His selfless actions were directly responsible for the rescue of 12 critically wounded coalition soldiers. His courage, tactical abilities, and regard for the safety of his patients, crew and aircraft were remarkable. Rohrs enlisted in the Army in January 1997 and is from Scottsdale, Ariz.
-- Strickland was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action May 29, 2007, while engaged with an armed enemy during Operation Kulang Hellion, near Kajaki Sofla, in Afghanistan. He braved hostile fire in an attempt to rescue the crew of an aircraft shot down by enemy fire. He secured the crash site, engaged the attacking enemy with multiple weapons, and prevented the Taliban from capturing his fellow soldiers. Strickland enlisted in the Army in August 1991 and is from Rowland, N.C.
-- Tomlin, of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, is awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on April 9, 2007, while serving as scout platoon leader in Afghanistan. He distinguished himself against an enemy force that outnumbered his own by six to one. Tomlin led several dismounted counterattacks against the enemy at the risk of his own life and demonstrated leadership, personal courage, and selfless dedication, the award citation stated. His example of bravery under fire was the key component to turning a dire situation into a complete victory for the task force. Tomlin enlisted in the Army in March 1995 and is from Barkhamsted, Conn.
-- Carswell, the Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, is an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He deployed to Afghanistan from July 2005 to November 2006. He later deployed to Iraq with 1st Battalion, 325th AIR, from July to December 2006 and then again from January to November 2007. He enlisted in the Army in November 1993 and is originally from George Hildebrand, N.C.
-- Danley, the Trooper of the Year, is an infantryman assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. Danley deployed to Iraq from August 2006 to October 2007 with 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He enlisted in the Army in April 2004 and is from Vacaville, Calif.