FORT BRAGG, NC (Jerry Green) – The 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne) recognized seven of their own in a valor awards ceremony at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Memorial Auditorium, Jan. 23, 2014.
Lt. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commanding general of the U.S. Special Operations Command, awarded the Silver Star to Staff Sgt. Michael P. Pate and the Bronze Star to Capt. Jacob A. Allen for their actions on a civil reconnaissance patrol on Nov. 1, 2012.
What started as a “routine” patrol turned into anything but, as the Soldiers came under small arms and automatic weapons fire east of the village of Sardar Kala, Afghanistan.
While conducting a civil reconnaissance patrol on the afternoon of Nov. 1, 2012, the trail man in the element carried the heavy weapon system, but was critically wounded when a bullet from the initial ambush struck him in the back and he went down. Seeing this, Pate, the medical sergeant on the team, realized the necessity to immediately neutralize the enemy threat and render aid to his wounded teammate.
Disregarding his own safety, Pate ran more than 50 meters back toward the enemy fighting positions to provide aid. Pate and his team leader Allen, chose to run through the heavy enemy fire, and dragged the wounded warrior more than 25 meters to the only cover available in the form of a 6-inch retaining berm, and continued to return fire on the enemy position.
“I was struck by the phrase used to describe CAT 611’s mission. The phrase was, while on a routine civil reconnaissance patrol, “Cleveland said. “It certainly didn’t turn out routine, it instead proved the point that our Army Special Operations Soldiers and leaders are assessed, selected and trained to perform as this team did on patrol.”
For the same patrol, Sgt. 1st Class Kevin L. Hargrove and Sgt. 1st Class Kevin W. Oakes received the Army Commendation Medal.
“In the face of danger, the common person would seek cover and protect themselves,” said Lt. Col. Basil J. Catanzaro, commander, 96th Civil Affairs Battalion (Airborne). “Sgt. Pate and the other team members are not common, they are trained Soldiers and duty bound to take care of each other.”
Also honored was Staff Sgt. Philp A. Aubrey who was awarded the Bronze Star for his actions during a combat reconnaissance patrol on Nov. 5, 2012.
On Sept. 27, 2012, 1st Sgt. Jamie T. Mullinax, while conducting Village Stability Operations at a remote operating base, displayed impressive courage and relentless tactical tenacity while responding to a highly organized enemy automatic weapons, rocket, and mortar base attack from seven elevated fighting positions.
On April 26, 2012, Sgt. 1st Class Donovan S. Johnson and his CA team executed a daylight Combat Reconnaissance Patrol in highly contested battle space. After entering the objective and experiencing relentless fire, Johnson selflessly exposed himself to the enemy at least a half dozen times, as rounds snapped overhead and impacted the walls around him while providing protection to the patrol’s tactical communicator and Ground Force Commander.
Johnson’s actions were crucial to establishing an accurate enemy force disposition and securing immediate close air support, ultimately halting the enemy onslaught with zero friendly casualties. Johnson’s poise under fire undoubtedly saved the lives of his teammates.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Cleveland commented that what is routine for our special operators is perhaps extraordinary for others.
“The country will call on Civil Affairs and the other ARSOF brothers and sisters,” said Cleveland. “The actions we honor today declare to everyone that you are equal to the challenge. Don’t look back, seize the future and make it yours. Be proud of who you are, what you do and who you do it with, for you are without equal.”