April 18th, 2008 12:19 EST
Bronze Star with Valor presented to Two Silver Lions
BAGHDAD – Multiple improvised-explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades and a hail of gunfire greeted Silver Lions' Soldiers as they conducted route clearance in the southern portion of the Sadr City district of Baghdad April 11.
Abrams Tanks from Company C, 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad, accompanying the route-clearance vehicles rushed into action to suppress the swelling attack that disabled a Coalition Forces vehicle and injured a Soldier.
The RPG and small-arms fire quickly turned to the two tanks and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle as they maneuvered to protect and then treat the injured Soldier. Sgt. 1st Class John Weatherly, the platoon sergeant leading the armored escorts, directed his troops to engage the criminals – who were firing from behind the cover of buildings and other nearby structures – once they were positively identified.
"We moved up beside the Husky on the right side to put ourselves between the Husky and Sadr City … and engaged," said Weatherly, a Culpeper, Va., native.
Weatherly's gunner, Sgt. Ruddie Williams, is on his second tour in Iraq with the Silver Lions and said he welcomed the opportunity to use the skills he's practiced so much.
"It's nice having a vehicle that has the capability to actually do that – with the tank – and using it for what it's for and not just rolling down the streets," said the Morgantown, W. Va., native.
The fighting continued for more than 30 minutes as Williams scanned rooftops, alleys, windows and everything in between for criminals attempting to engage the patrol as others worked to treat the injured Soldier.
"I was worried about guys on the ground that were helping with recovery and excited at the same time as I got to do what I was trained to do," he said.
Clashes between special groups and members of the Iraqi Security Forces, as well as American troops, in the northeastern portion of Baghdad have increased in recent weeks. Weatherly, Williams and other members of the 1-68 AR have been at the tip of that fighting beside the ISF to help secure Baghdad.
Despite this lofty task, Weatherly, who is on his second Operation Iraqi Freedom tour, remains humble about his actions.
"We're doing our job. That's all it is – helping (support) Iraqi (Security) Forces when we're doing our job," he said.
His previous experience in Iraq was with the 1st Armored Division during OIF I.
In helping protect their fellow Soldiers, the Silver Lions were able to kill 12 criminals and destroy a cache in a secondary explosion that night. They also continued to provide security so the night's mission could be accomplished.
"We just held the intersection so they could finish placing the guard tower at (Joint Security Station) Tharwa," he said.
Missions are a daily occurrence for these men, and the events of one day sometimes blur into those of the others. As Weatherly was recounting the actions that day, his voice took on an almost dulled tone – not because he doesn't see what he did that day as dull, just that the pace hasn't slowed since that day.
"It might have only been six days ago, but a lot has happened since then," he said.
For their actions, Weatherly and Williams were awarded the Bronze Star with Valor during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Callahan April 17.
by Sgt. Zach Mott, 3rd BCT PAO, 4th Inf. Div., MND-B