82ndairbornedivisiondecorsilverstarAwarded Silver Star

Several paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division received the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for combat valor, last week.

On Friday, five troopers from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry, received the award from Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell. The men had recently returned from a fifteen-month tour in Iraq that cost their unit 22 Troopers. Receiving the citation for gallantry in action were:

First Sergeant John R. Croomer

Machine gun fire erupted less than 20 feet from Croomer’s position. The executive officer, Capt. Rhett Schiller, and an Iraqi soldier, were both shot during the ambush, Croomer said. Insurgents — hidden in holes near the dried out canal — continued to pepper Croomer and his men with gunfire.

The clearance team was pinned down and unable to provide medical attention to Schiller and the Iraqi soldier. Croomer tried going over a berm to get to Schiller, but the volume of gunfire was too fierce. Instead Croomer threw a grenade, killing the insurgents.

Sgt. Justin L. Young

As a reconnaissance squad leader in the enemy-controlled town of Quabba, Young was shot in his chest plate and received shrapnel wounds to his neck, knocking him off his feet. While under direct fire, he managed to fire his damaged M4 weapon, killing the enemy. Young refused treatment for his neck wound and took up an AK-47 and three extra magazines and continued to lead his team. For the next five days, Young continued clearing Qubbah and Zaganiyah. He never once sought medical treatment for his injuries.

Spc. Andrew S. Harriman

Harriman was a platoon Medic.

On March 5, he was shot multiple times while running to help injured soldiers.  Machine gun rounds hit his body armor and medical bag. Much of his medical supplies were destroyed. He applied two tourniquets and an IV on a man whose femoral arteries had been severed, all while taking on fire.

Capt. Stephen G. Dobbins

For four days, Dobbins’ group endured combat gunfire south of Balad Ruz, near the village of Turki. Around 8 p.m. on Nov. 15, 2006, Dobbins was maneuvering his soldiers when his vehicle hit an anti-tank mine, destroying the vehicle and wounding him and his crew. Injured and refusing medical evacuation, Dobbins helped move the wounded soldiers from the damaged vehicle. He then made his way across a minefield, taking enemy gunfire and vomiting along the way from a head concussion.

He called in close air support from helicopters and F-16 jets, which succeeded in destroying the enemy. He crossed the minefield again and was instrumental in calling in enemy coordinates. In all, 18 insurgents were killed.

Spc. Jeremiah A. Church

As a reconnaissance platoon machine gunner, Church was in an intense firefight with 30 entrenched insurgents north of Baqouba near the village of Naqeeb on Aug. 8. He was part of a convoy of 11 gun trucks.

He was shot though his left wrist. Although bleeding, he continued to load his 50-caliber gun and return fire. While reloading with one hand, he put his wounded hand into the turret so another soldier could tend to the hole in his wrist. The bleeding continued and he applied a tourniquet to himself.

Twice, he dismounted his vehicle under a torrent of gunfire to gather more ammunition.

Also on Friday, Spc. Thomas Barbieri, from the 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, was awarded the Silver Star, posthumously, for his actions during an enemy ambush in Iraq last year. The citation was accepted by his brother, David.

“I am proud of him,” said David Barbieri. “He gave his life to save others.”

Barbieri’s unit was ambushed in August 2006. With his unit under fire, Barbieri exposed himself to fire as he flanked a group of heavily armed enemy fighters who were firing on his platoon. He killed one fighter and flushed the other one out so his unit mates could kill him. But it cost him his life.

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