Project Hero: PFC Jeremy Church, Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, January 21, 2006
Soldiers in transportation units aren't supposed to be trigger-pullers. Soldiers in transportation units are supposed to drive trucks. But the war in Iraq has changed that dynamic, and it has placed units that normally operate behind friendly lines in the forefront of the conflict. PFC Jeremy Church's story of heroism underlines that and demonstrates there's nothing soft about our combat service support soldiers in Iraq.
PFC Church earned the [Silver Star] when his convoy was attacked April 9 by more than 150 insurgents in an ambush.
Church was the convoy commander’s driver in the lead vehicle. The convoy was taking fuel to Baghdad International Airport when the Madr Militia struck. Church’s actions are attributed with saving the lives of at least five Soldiers and four civilians.
Church drove aggressively through the “kill zone” to dodge explosions, obstacles and small arms fire, according to his citation. When the convoy commander was shot, Church grabbed his first aid pouch, ripped it open, and instructed the platoon leader to apply a bandage. Church fired his M-16 at the enemy as he continued to drive around barriers.
When an improvised explosive devised blew out a tire, Church continued driving for four miles on only three tires, all the while firing his M-16 out the window with his left hand. He finally led the convoy into a security perimeter established by a cavalry company from 2-12 Cav. He then carried his platoon leader out of the vehicle to a casualty collection point for treatment.
Then Church rallied the troopers to launch an immediate recovery mission and escorted them back into the kill zone. “Pfc. Church identified the assistant commander’s vehicle amidst heavy black smoke and flaming wreckage of burning fuel tankers to find two more wounded Soldiers and four civilian truck drivers,” his citation reads, adding that after a hasty triage and treating a sucking chest wound, he “carried the Soldier over to one of the recovery vehicles while exposing himself to continuous enemy fire from both sides of the road.”
When all the wounded were loaded in the truck, there was no room and Church volunteered to remain behind. He climbed into a disabled Humvee for cover, according to his citation, and continued firing at and killing insurgents until the recovery team returned. He then loaded up several more wounded before sweeping the area for sensitive items and evacuating.
Read that again. This is the story of young truck driver who not only kept his head, responded to the attack, but when his leader was wounded, took charge of the effort to get his comrades through the ambush. Not satisfied with just surviving the ambush and leading the other survivors out of the kill zone, PFC Church returned to the area to hunt for wounded and get them out of there. It is an incredible story and just one of many which demonstrate the depth of courage and heroism our soldier's display on a daily basis. It's not about nation or ideals when it comes down to brass tacks, it's about your buddy on your right and left and doing everything within your power not to let them down. PFC Church went above and beyond the call of duty to fulfill that soldierly promise.
PROJECT HERO is an ongoing attempt to highlight the valor of our military as they fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan. We constantly hear the negative and far to little of the positive and inspiring stories coming out of those countries. This is one small attempt to rectify that. If you know of a story of valor you'd like to see highlighted here (published on Saturday), please contact us. And we'd appreciate your link so we can spread the word.