Updated 06/29/2012 06:39 PM
Soldiers awarded valor medals and one awarded Distinguished Flying Cross
The bravery of the men and women of Fort Drum serving overseas can often be overlooked, but Friday, the Army made certain to single out 18 members of Drum's 10th Combat Aviation Brigade who went above and beyond to help fellow soldiers. As Our Brian Dwyer reports, one soldier was given a very prestigious honor.
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FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Seventeen soldiers who are all pilots and/or medics with the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade were all credited with exceptional courage and bravery during their latest deployment to Afghanistan. They were all honored Friday, awarded the Air Medal with Valor.
"They recognize they're the one wearing the medal, but also recognize that goes behind that cloth," Major General Mark Milley, Fort Drum's Commanding General said. "They recognize the blood, the sweat, the tears, the sacrifice, the family pain back home. They recognize, fully comprehend and understand the meaning behind that medal."
And there was one soldier in particular, whose heroic actions stood out. Staff Sergeant Brian Cammack was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. It's the sixth highest Army decoration there is.
During Operation Strong Eagle in March of 2011, under extreme enemy fire that killed six soldiers, Cammack repelled down from a hovering chopper to rescue critically injured soldiers. He then stayed on the ground for another hour providing care. In all, he was able to rescue six soldiers and retrieve the bodies of three of those killed during the fight.
"Absolutely instinct," SSG Cammack said. "We train so much here that when it comes to it during the heat of the moment, it's just muscle memory and everything clicks. Honestly, we didn't even know it was going to be a hoist moment."
But what Cammack calls instinct, most call heroic. Including the brigade commander.
"It is extremely difficult to capture the character and the ability and the drive and motivation that is required of all our of our soldiers who do that," Col. Pedro Almeida said. "Staff Sgt. Cammack is one of the best. He simply exemplifies that."
"The Colonel and the General had amazing things to say, but I'm still humbled because six soldiers lost their lives that day because of the enemy contact. Like I said, I'm humbled. I'm proud, but I'd definitely give it back if even one of those soldiers could come back," SSG Cammack added.
It's a statement echoed by each and every medal recipient.
As a member of the Army Reserve Corps, Charles Lindbergh was the first person to ever receive the Distinguished Flying Cross. He got it for his solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927.