WASHINGTON — Army Secretary Mark Esper on Thursday honored Ohio Rep. Brad Wenstrup, an Army Reserve colonel and Iraq war veteran, with the Soldier’s Medal for his heroic actions during a shooting at a congressional baseball team practice last year.
The honor came at a Capitol Hill ceremony just one day after the Republican caucus’ team returned to their practice field for the first time since the attack.
Last June 14, an armed gunman ambushed the players and security staff, firing more than 100 rounds and injuring four people.
That included House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., who was hit in the open field and suffered life-threatening wounds. After Capitol Police officers subdued the gunman, Wenstrup rushed to his side, administering first aid and applying a tourniquet to stop Scalise’s bleeding.
Doctors said Scalise likely would have died without the immediate intervention. He has undergone multiple surgeries since the attack, but returned to Congress last fall to resume his legislative work.
On multiple occasions since then — and again on Thursday — Scalise has credited Wenstrup’s quick-thinking and military training with saving his life.
Wenstrup, part of a small contingent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans serving in Congress, has been in the Army Reserve since 1998 and served as chief of surgery with the 344th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq from 2005 to 2006. He received a Bronze Star for his service during that tour.
At Thursday’s ceremony, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., praised Wenstrup as a noble public servant, both for his ongoing work in Congress and his actions that day.
“When this all happened, Brad Wenstrup, he led,” Ryan said. “He answered the call. He stepped in and it was automatic. That is not taught. That is in you.”
The Soldier’s Medal is the Army’s highest peacetime award for valor.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.