Back in 2016, then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered his department to launch a review of more than 1,300 valor awards bestowed for Global War on Terror action, after suspicions arose that some service members’ bravery had been under-recognized during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Army owned about 800 of those medals, and this year, plans to upgrade 13 Silver Stars to the Distinguished Service Cross.
Some have already received their awards and some will get them later this year, according to Army spokesmen.
The soldiers are receiving the DSC “in recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty,” Lt. Col. Emmanuel Ortiz-Cruz told Army Times in March. “Previously recognized for their bravery by award of the Silver Star, the Department of Defense upgraded the soldiers’ medals as part of a comprehensive review of commendations for heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Here is the available list:
- Staff Sgt. Stevon Booker, a tank commander with A Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, who was killed in action while fighting off an ambush near Baghdad on April 5, 2003, during the Iraq invasion. His family received his award April 5.
- Maj. Thomas Bostick, commander of B Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team out of Vicenza, Italy, who was killed in action July 27, 2007, while placing himself in between his soldiers and a line of enemy fire near Saret Koleh, Afghanistan. His family received his award March 1.
- Capt. (then-1st Lt. ) Andrew Bundermann, acting commander of B Troop, 3rd Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado, who successfully helped defend Combat Outpost Keating on Oct. 3, 2009, during the Battle of Kamdesh. The notorious fight resulted in two Medals of Honor, and now two Distinguished Service Crosses. Out of the Army since 2012, he received his award March 7.
- Sgt. Daniel Cowart, a gunner for D Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, who tackled an insurgent in a suicide vest on May 13, 2007, near Samarra, Iraq. Retired from the Army since 2008, he received his award on March 20.
- Sgt. (then-Pvt.) Robert K. Debolt, an infantryman with C Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, then based at Fort Hood, Texas, who pulled his fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle after a Sept. 4, 2008, IED attack in Kandahar province, Afghanistan. Out of the Army since 2011, he received his award on March 28.
- Staff Sgt. Michael Ollis, of 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York, who was killed in action while shielding a Polish soldier from a suicide bomber on Aug. 28, 2013, in Ghazni province, Afghanistan.
- Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hawks, of Operational Detachment Alpha 323, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, for action on July 25, 2005, which resulted in 15 confirmed enemy killed, 14 insurgents captured and more than 30 light and heavy weapons recovered in Afghanistan.
- Chief Warrant Officer 3 Christopher Palumbo, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with A Company, 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Aviation Brigade out of Ansbach, Germany, who helped insert a Special Forces team to defend an Afghan National Army convoy that had been struck by insurgents on April 11, 2005, in southeastern Afghanistan.
- Spc. Samuel Crockett, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command out of Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, who cleared pathways in and out of a high-risk explosive area on Oct. 5, 2013, for an 18-man special operations team in brown-out conditions, successfully helping them infiltrate and safely evacuate in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
- Chief Warrant Officer Jason Myers, an assistant detachment commander for Operational Detachment Alpha 3321 out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, who rescued 15 hostages guarded by suicide bombers on Nov. 10, 2011. It is Myers’ second DSC, as he earned the first on March 27, 2010.
Ceremonies for the special operations soldiers are still in the planning stages, Lt. Col. Loren Bymer told Army Times.
Three additional USASOC soldiers will be upgraded from Silver Stars to Distinguished Service Crosses, he added, but their names and actions are not releasable due to security concerns.
In the meantime, other awards have seen upgrades. In December, the Army awarded Staff Sgt. Justin Gallegos, long considered a hero of the Battle of Kamdesh in Afghanistan, a Distinguished Service Cross after an upgrade campaign backed by then-Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz.
No other information has been released concerning further upgrades.
Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT