On March 20, he’s going back to Fort Hood, Texas, where he’ll receive the military’s second highest valor award ― the Distinguished Service Cross ― for the heroic act that cost him part of his leg and led to his early retirement from the Army, according to a Tuesday release from the 1st Cavalry Division.
“Due to his ability to discern the threat to his comrades and his utter disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Cowart was able to prevent further injury to his fellow soldiers and nearby civilians," according to his citation.
Cowart was a gunner in D Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment on May 13, 2007, when his platoon was conducting a checkpoint on a supply route near Samarra, Iraq.
After Cowart and three other soldiers approached a vehicle, they saw an insurgent with a rifle and another wearing a suicide vest.
“As the rifle wielding insurgent was engaged by another Soldier, Sgt. Cowart maneuvered around the vehicle and engaged the suicide vest-wearing insurgent in hand-to-hand combat, tackling the man and hurling himself and the man away from the vehicle,” the citation reads.
The vest went off, and Cowart’s injuries led to an amputation of his left leg, below the knee, and he medically retired in 2008, according to the release.
He received the Silver Star for his actions in 2007, but a 2016 Defense Department-wide review of Global War on Terror valor awards resulted in a recommendation to upgrade the award, the release said.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members.