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Specialist to receive Silver Star on Tuesday

Apr. 7, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Spc. Samuel Crockett
Spc. Samuel Crockett (Army)
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A soldier who continuously risked his own safety to recover fallen and wounded comrades in Afghanistan will be honored Tuesday with the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor.

Spc. Samuel Crockett, of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Command, is being recognized for his actions on Oct. 5 in Zharay district west of Kandahar. The ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Fort Benning, Ga.

On Oct. 5, an assault force of 40 soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment was tasked with raiding a Taliban bomb-maker’s compound.

As the soldiers approached the compound, described by one special operations official as “a suicide vest and improvised explosive device factory,” a woman wearing a suicide vest emerged from a nearby building and detonated it.

As other Rangers moved in to help the wounded, a series of buried bombs detonated.

Four soldiers were killed and 14 others were wounded.

As the number of casualties grew, the ground force commander called for a quick-reaction force of 20 personnel, including Crockett.

Crockett, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, and his platoon sergeant, knowing the existence of potential hazards on the helicopter landing zone, infiltrated the target area in advance of the rest of the QRF, according to the narrative accompanying Crockett’s award.

The two men cleared an insertion point for the incoming QRF, working through limited visibility and brown-out conditions.

Crockett cleared a path for the QRF to get to the casualty collection point, and he then cleared another to ensure medical personnel could move freely to care for the wounded, according to the narrative.

Crockett then moved on to clear paths for troops who were stopped due to a call to stop all movement, for fear of triggering another explosion.

Despite the danger, Crockett continued to work, clearing a 10-meter path to the center of the IED-laden terrain to recover the remains of one of the fallen soldiers and a fallen military working dog.

Realizing they were the only two EOD technicians on the objective, Crockett and his platoon sergeant continued to work to recover personnel and sensitive items.

When another bomb went off as troops tried to recover the remains of another fallen soldier, Crockett ran toward the wounded troops and began to render first aid.

One of the wounded soldiers lost his right leg in the blast, and Crockett applied a tourniquet and single-handedly dragged him to safety.

Crockett then went back to find another wounded soldier who had been knocked off the cleared path.

Five meters into his deliberate clearance, Crockett triggered another IED. Despite this near-catastrophe, Crockett picked a new route and kept moving toward the wounded man.

Once he got the wounded soldier to safety and talking with the QRF leader, Crockett determined he could safely recover the remains of the fallen soldier.

Crockett had all personnel move a safe distance away and began to clear a path, by hand, to the fallen soldier.

“Completely alone and exposing himself to the known threats in the IED belt, Spc. Crockett utilized a drag line to move [the fallen soldier] back onto a cleared path from where he could safely bring her to the casualty collection point to be prepared for transport,” according to the narrative.

Crockett “endured the most chaotic circumstances while continuously traversing an ambiguous tactical situation and consistently put himself in the most dangerous positions,” according to the narrative. “Following the final detonation that incapacitated [his platoon sergeant], Crockett took control of the entire objective, managing the movement and clearance of all personnel.”

Crockett ignored the imminent danger and “repeatedly elected to enter uncleared areas and in the process recovered 14 total personnel,” his narrative states.

In a statement, Crockett said he is honored to receive the Silver Star from the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“I am happy that they feel like I deserve it,” he said.

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