US Army: 2007-03-14 SoldiersMedal release - Documents

US Army: 2007-03-14 SoldiersMedal release

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 14, 2007 SERGEANT’S QUICK RESPONSE TO FUEL EXPLOSION EARNS HIM ARMY’S HIGHEST PEACETIME MEDAL By Spc. Alfredo Jimenez Jr. 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office FRIEDBERG, Germany -- Looking out at the crowd filling the stands to capacity at the Ray Barracks fitness center here, Sgt. Christopher M. Cafaro wondered how one brief, simple act could lead to something like this. His thoughts took him back two years, to a place near the dining facility where he was p
  SPC ALFREDO JIMENEZ JR Col. Sean B. MacFarland, commander of 1st BrigadeCombat Team, 1st Armored Division, pins the Soldier'sMedal on Sgt. Christopher M. Cafaro of the brigade's 1stBattalion, 37th Armor at the fitness center on Ray Barracksin Friedberg, Germany March 5. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 14, 2007 SERGEANT’S QUICK RESPONSE TO FUEL EXPLOSIONEARNS HIM ARMY’S HIGHEST PEACETIME MEDAL By Spc. Alfredo Jimenez Jr. 1st Armored Division Public Affairs Office FRIEDBERG, Germany -- Looking out at the crowd filling the stands to capacity atthe Ray Barracks fitness center here, Sgt. Christopher M. Cafaro wondered how onebrief, simple act could lead to something like this.His thoughts took him back two years,to a place near the dining facility wherehe was packing his bags to head homefollowing a deployment rehearsalexercise at the Hohenfels (Germany)Training Area.As Cafaro packed, a loud booming soundsuddenly split the air. Recalling that hehad seen a fuel truck nearby, he rushed to see what had happened.Sure enough, the truck had exploded in a raging mass of flame. As Cafaro hurried tothe scene, a burning man bumped into him. He was obviously seriously injured and  needed help fast. While Cafaro and another Soldier were putting out the flames, asecond victim walked up to them in flames. Cafaro helped put that fire out, too.In the midst of the chaos Cafaro heard someone yell that the truck was going toexplode. Instead of running for his life, he dashed to the potentially deadly vehicleand turned off its fuel valve.That seemingly innocuous turn of a valve prevented further explosions or injuries,and led Cafaro to a place of honor. Standing tall before that crowd in the fitnesscenter March 5, his brigade commander presented the sergeant with the Army'shighest award for noncombat heroism -- the Soldier's Medal. “I never expected to receive anything for it,” Cafaro said of his actions that day. “I just did what I hope others would do in the same situation.”  “It might have been the dumbest thing I’ve done,” he added. “But if I didn’t do it,there would be more casualties.” During the two years that passed from the day of the explosion to the medalceremony, Cafaro's unit -- the 1st Battalion, 37th Armor -- spent 14 months incombat in Iraq. The heroism the sergeant displayed that day, stated Col. SeanMcFarland, commander of the 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade, is typical of thestuff he and his peers displayed in battle. “He earned the Soldiers Medal,” said MacFarland. “This foreshadowed the type of heroism and personal courage that Cafaro embodies.”    The sergeant claims his singular act pales in comparison to his comrades'performance in Iraq, and said he would trade the Soldier's Medal for the opportunityto bring back some of his fallen comrades. “It means a lot to get it in front of my peers, and I hope they realize that medals donot make you a value to the country, but what (you learn) from the experience (of earning them),” Cafaro said.The Soldier's Medal, established July 2, 1926, is awarded to members of the U.S.armed forces who commit acts of heroism and meritorious service not involvingactual conflict with an enemy, while serving in any capacity with the Army.The medal is often awarded to Soldiers who risk their lives to save others. It can beawarded in peacetime if the act of heroism would have justified an award of theDistinguished Service Cross -- which is only awarded for valor -- if the act had takenplace in combat.
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