Project Hero: SSG Charles Good: Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, January 07, 2006
SSG Good, a Special Forces soldier saved the life of a fellow soldier and fought for an additional 24 hours, a battle in which the insurgents suffered 35 KIA.
Staff Sgt. Charles Good of the 5th Special Forces was credited with exposing himself to enemy fire on the Syrian/Iraqi border to assist in getting a critically wounded comrade into a Humvee, then negotiating in Arabic a ride from an Iraqi man for them when the Humvee became crippled by enemy fire.
“Something took over me,” said Good, 34, of Altoona, Pa., after the brief ceremony. “That’s pretty much how it was.”
Five other members of his 5th Special Forces unit, based at Fort Campbell, received Bronze Star medals with valor device Thursday for their actions in the same clash that ended 24 hours after it started with more than 35 insurgents killed, the Army said.
The injured soldier, Sgt. First Class Joseph Briscoe, 37, of Liberty, Texas, whose right arm was blown off by a rocket-propelled grenade during the incident, was among those receiving a Bronze Star. Briscoe, a father of four, said there’s no way to appropriately convey his thanks to Good.
“I don’t know what you say to someone who’s responsible for saving your life,” said Briscoe, who now has a prosthetic arm. “I hope he can understand how grateful I am to him. ... I thank him every time I see him.”
The ceremony on Thursday was dedicated to Staff Sgt. Aaron Holleyman, 26, the 5th Group Army medic who treated Briscoe at the base camp. Holleyman was killed Aug. 30 in Iraq when his vehicle was hit by a land mine.
Good joined the Army in 1989 as a trumpet player, and participated in the 1991 Gulf War. He made the switch to Special Forces 10 years into his career.
“I really enjoyed my time in the band. ... I just kind of tired of it. I just wanted to challenge myself,” said Good, who is engaged and has a 10-year-old son. “I thought I could do this job. Or else I’d be asking myself the rest of my life if I could.”
The 11 men who originally came under fire were members of the Special Operational Detachment Alpha 531. Their mission was to curtail foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq along the border in their assigned territory and clear the area of insurgents.
The Army provided the following account of what happened when their two-vehicle convoy drove into the hostile village of Sadah on Oct. 31, 2003:
The clash started when one vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade that ricocheted off the roof of the vehicle.
Eight members went after the assailants.
At the same time, Good, Briscoe and a third soldier in a second vehicle provided security. It was then that Briscoe was hit.
As Briscoe was loaded into the vehicle, Good provided cover fire. Because they had no radio communication, Good then drove the vehicle through small-arms fire to tell the others they were going to the base camp.
But before they could get there, the vehicle was disabled by small-arms and machine-gun fire. Good then negotiated with an Iraqi man in a dilapidated Toyota to drive them to the base camp. Good said he had been taught some Arabic during his training.
Good said he was never worried that the Iraqi would hurt them.
“We were still armed,” Good said.
After dropping Briscoe off, Good returned to the fight with other comrades to assist those left behind. Those left “fought in a street-by-street battle” and at times were outnumbered 4-to-1, according to an Army chronology of events that day.
The unit regrouped that night, then returned the next day to kill five more insurgents and capture 18 others, the Army said.
Capt. David Diamond, 30, of Geneva, Ohio; Sgt. 1st Class Alan Knox, 44, of Reno, Nev.; Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Cook, 40, of Oak Hill, W.Va.; and Staff Sgt. Jason Bacon, 29, of Luther, Mich., were each among those who received Bronze Stars Thursday for valor during the incident.
The Army said the unit’s “swift and violent response crippled the enemy’s ability to effectively operate for months to come ... which saved American and Iraqi lives.”
Good said, “At points ... I really thought probably everybody there was going to die. I was just kind of waiting for it. I just kept doing what I had to do. ... I just looked for that goal, and I achieved it.”
Outnumbered 4 to 1, under intense fire, these troopers kept returning to the battle and inflicting more casualties on the enemy. SSG Good's presence of mind, training and "never-say-die" attitude saved the life of his comrade who'd lost an arm in the initial action. He then went right back to the fight to support his other brothers-in-arms.
As he says, "I just kept doing what I had to do ...."
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.
My name is Gayla, and I was married to Aaron Holleyman. I want to say that I wish you all, and your families well. We are doing ok, the best we can be in these circumstances. Aaron is sorely missed, and loved. Our children still think of him, and ask for him. I know that Briscoe was his good buddy, and I met him at the funeral in Mississippi. Take care, and God bless.