Florida-based Green Berets were awarded nearly 30 valor medals — as well as 21 Purple Hearts — Thursday for their actions in Afghanistan between September 2018 and February 2019.
Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group led a special operations task force in the country that earned Green Berets three Silver Stars, seven Bronze Stars with valor and 17 Army Commendation Medals with valor, said 1st Special Forces Command spokesman Maj. Dan Lessard.
Not included in the ceremony were members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, who also participated in the same deployment and who will receive awards in a separate ceremony at a later date, Lessard said.
“The deployment was aimed at trying to stabilize security in Afghanistan prior to the parliamentary elections that were happening,” he added.
An Army news release notes that the special operations task force helped prevent the Taliban from seriously threatening or capturing any provincial capital during the deployment.
While the Taliban are rarely able to hold onto dense urban areas for long periods of time, the militant group has long been able to contest and control rural areas, from where they launch periodic offenses. The month before 3rd Group began their deployment, the Taliban momentarily captured portions of Ghazni and Farah cities as part of the 2018 summer fighting season.
Col. Steven M. Marks, deputy commander of 1st Special Forces Command, presented awards during the ceremony. Marks was also present in Afghanistan during the six-month deployment.
“The valor we are recognizing today happened at the most tactical level — face to face fighting, close quarters combat, hand grenade range,” Marks said in the release.
“This is a reminder that even in the modern age, warfare is still about courage under fire, having the mental sharpness to operate with expertise in the worst of times and taking action to protect your brother, your team and your partners," he added.
Officials from 7th Group and 1st Special Forces Command declined to provide citations for the Silver Star awards to Army Times, stating that the documents would have to be first redacted through the Freedom of Information Act request process.
While 7th Group did not suffer any losses during this particular rotation, the company from 3rd Group did.
Two Green Berets, Capt. Andrew P. Ross and Sgt. 1st Class Eric M. Emond, as well as an infantryman providing support to their team, Sgt. Jason M. McClary, were killed by a roadside bomb in Ghazni province. A Special Tactics airman, Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, was also killed in the same attack.
Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Beale, another 3rd Group Green Beret, was killed by small arms fire in Uruzgan province in the final month of the deployment.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.