NEWS | Nov. 4, 2018

Colorado National Guard Green Berets receive awards for valor

By Sgt. Christopher Churilla, 104th Public Affairs Detachment 5-19

Colorado National Guard leaders presented awards to Company B, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) members for valor Sept. 16, 2018. 

The awards included one Silver Star, five Bronze Star Medals with valor, and five Army Commendation Medals with valor. The Soldiers earned their awards during their latest deployment to Afghanistan from spring through fall 2017 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and Resolute Support. 

Many of the award citations described Soldiers exposing themselves to enemy fire, without hesitation, to either engage the enemy or to provide support to fellow service members. Several citations described Soldiers continuing to perform their duties despite suffering injuries themselves. 

“(Company B), 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group, made a significant historical impact last year,” The Adjutant General of Colorado U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Michael A. Loh said before he pinned each of the 13 members of the company with the awards. 

He thanked the family members and friends for their support to the Soldiers, Colorado and the Colorado Army National Guard. 

“Soldiers continue to volunteer to fight the country’s wars,” U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph A. Bauldry, 5th Battalion commander, 19th SFG(A), said. “The Green Berets who received the awards continue to carry out the fight that the country has been involved in for nearly 17 years.” 

“I don’t think there’s any better job in the Army, than to be able to command and lead some of the finest individuals who we have here in this country,” Bauldry said. “So I think that there is nothing better that I can do than to lead these fine people.” 

The troops saw a lot of combat on the deployment, many were injured, and one Soldier made the ultimate sacrifice. 

Baldry said that the valor awards ceremony signified the accomplishments of the Soldiers and is a positive ending to a long chapter for the Green Berets and their families. 

“All of the Soldiers gallantly answered the call of duty,” Bauldry said. “They admirably represented Colorado, the Colorado Army National Guard, and the 19th Special Forces Group." 

The Green Berets organized into Special Forces Operations Detachment-Alphas, partnering with the Afghanistan National Army Special Operations Command and the Ministry of the Interior-Afghan Forces. 

What sets valor awards apart from other awards is that they are only given for acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy. 

The amount of the valor awards given to this National Guard unit is historically momentous, Bauldry said. 

This was the unit’s third valor awards ceremony for this mobilization. In total, 76 valor awards have been approved and presented. 

“I don’t know of any other time, where a unit of this size, has received this number of awards, probably since World War II,” Bauldry said. 

The families of several awardees were present for the ceremony and joined them after receiving the awards. One family member stood in for a recipient who was unable to attend. 

“Hometown heroes like these keep America safe," Loh said. “The unwavering support of their families, employers and neighbors allow them to focus on their warrior mission.” 

While the company engaged the enemy, they were also deployed in support of the Train, Advise and Assist Command-East to enhance the Special Operations’ capabilities of Afghan forces in the eastern portion of the country. They also used the efforts of a fellow COARNG unit, the 3rd Battalion, 157th Field Artillery, High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, to devastating effect. The combination of the units inflicted high casualties on enemy forces throughout the assigned area of operations. 

“I’d like to give my thanks to, not only the unit and the family members, (but also) the community for all of the support they do give us,” Bauldry said.