Project Hero: SGT Joshua Szott, Silver Star Posted by: McQ
on Saturday, July 01, 2006
Today we honor SGT Joshua Szott from the 4th Infantry Division. SGT Szott was awarded the Silver Star for valor in combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom in September of 2003. Although wounded in both legs by small arms fire and shrapnel, he succesfully carried 4 wounded comrads to safety while under fire and then forced the retreat of 20 attackers which eventually led to their capture:
More than one year after he returned with his Task Force Ironhorse team from Iraq, a 4th Infantry Division soldier was recognized for gallantry Thursday during a ceremony at division headquarters
Sgt. Joshua Szott, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle commander with 7th Battalion, 10th Cavalry Regiment, was awarded the Silver Star for his actions Sept. 18, 2003, while he was serving as a scout with the 1st Brigade Combat Team in Tikrit, Iraq.
While out on a patrol Sept. 18, Szott's team was ambushed by enemy forces. Szott was shot in the left leg and took shrapnel in his right leg. Wounded and bleeding, Szott carried out other wounded, forced the retreat of 20 enemy "guerrillas" and, according to the award citation, aided in the defeat and capture of those responsible for the attack.
Despite Szott's gallant efforts Sept. 18, three soldiers from his team sustained fatal injuries during the engagement.
"Soldiers (like Szott) make our Army great," said Maj. Gen. James Thurman, 4th Infantry's commanding general, as he presented the Silver Star to the 21-year-old soldier. "We have the best hardware and the best equipment but if we don't have soldiers who understand what it is all about to fight shoulder to shoulder with one another, we don't have anything."
Col. Jim Hickey, Szott's brigade commander, said he remembers the night that the young soldier's patrol was hit. During the Silver Star ceremony, Hickey recalled the courage Szott showed when he fought back the enemy ambush and then, even though injured, requested to stay with his team for the rest of the deployment.
"Battles are not won by machines but by valorous soldiers," Hickey said. "(Szott) is one of our gallant soldiers, he is one of the young men who is making a difference in this campaign. It is a real pleasure to recognize this young hero who epitomizes what we all stand for and what we aspire to (be)."
Joined by family and friends from around the country, Szott said he was honored to accept the Silver Star, but he would have rather had his lost friends standing beside him again.
"This is a joyous occasion and a painful reminder of what happened that night," Szott said. "I would gladly trade three smiling faces for this pin on my chest."
John Szott, Joshua's grandfather who flew in from Arizona to see his grandson receive the Silver Star, said he was very proud of the young man who joined the Army at 17 just to pay for college. A former Marine, John said he wasn't at all surprised by how his grandson performed when his team came under fire.
"I would have been more surprised if he hadn't done what he did," John said. "I don't think he has ever thought of himself as brave or heroic. What he did he did because that is just the way he is."
Addressing his teammates from the 7th Battalion, 10th Cavalry Regiment, a team he will return to Iraq with later this year, Szott pledged his support of his fellow soldiers and their continuing mission.
"When we go back (to Iraq), I am going to do everything I can to bring everyone back so you guys can feel safe," Szott said.
That statement exempifies the selfless mission every good NCO assigns himself when he takes his soldiers into combat. Mission comes first, of course, but bringing his "guys" home safely is right up there as well. The US Army can count itself lucky that it has literally thousands of Non Commissioned Officers in the mold of SGT Joshua Szott.
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.