19 Utah National Guard soldiers awarded medals for valor

| March 19, 2018 | 20 Comments

Sergeant First Class Madsen receives a hug from Major General and Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard Jeff Burton after Madsen was presented with The Silver Star, the United State’s third-highest award for valor, during a ceremony at the Utah National Guard Headquarters in Draper on Sunday, March 18, 2018.

KSL reports that nineteen special forces soldiers of the Utah National Guard received medals for valor for their actions in Afghanistan last year;

Four of the soldiers of the Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group received Silver Stars — the nation’s third highest award for valor in combat.

Three were awarded the Purple Heart, an award for those wounded or killed in action. Five received the Bronze Star with “V” device, and seven were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “V” device, for other acts of heroism.

Several Utah soldiers from two teams deployed to Afghanistan last year returned home wounded, and one Utah Guard Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler — who had been posthumously recognized with a Purple Heart — died in combat.

It’s not often that I’ve seen a Major General hug it out with a sergeant first class like in the picture at the top of this post.

“It’s incredibly humbling,” said Staff Sgt. Walrath, one of the four recipients of the Silver Star, in an interview after the ceremony. The Guard would not release first names of those honored for security reasons. “I really didn’t do anything more than my job, and that’s not me being humble, that’s just the fact.”


Other Silver Star recipients included Staff Sgt. Caldwell — who was also awarded a Purple Heart — for reacting quickly amid the chaos and panic of the Aug. 16 explosion to help manage the wounded, and Sgt. 1st Class Madsen, who, despite his wounds, crawled into an armored vehicle to return fire.

Capt. Nelson was also awarded a Silver Star, for showing bravery in May, when his team was ambushed during a clearance operation of an enemy stronghold. When a teammate was shot in the head by a sniper, Nelson “displayed a disregard for his own safety as he immediately ran to the aid” of the wounded soldier, and later exposed himself to enemy fire to rally forces.

“His actions inspired many to fight back in the face of overwhelming and unrelenting enemy fire ensuring the safe evacuation of a critically wounded U.S. casualty,” Fairbourn said.

Other award recipients included:

Staff Sgt. Edwards, Bronze Star with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Kennington, Bronze Star with “V” device

Sgt. 1st Class Mellor, Bronze Star with “V” device

Master Sgt. Muramoto, Bronze Star with “V” device

Sgt. 1st Class Speck, Bronze Star with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Ashford, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Flores, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Sgt. Major Gifford, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Lake, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Sgt. Maj. Miller, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Murray, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Sgt. 1st Class Wilcox, Army Commendation Medal with “V” device

Staff Sgt. Ashford, Purple Heart

Staff Sgt. Caldwell, Purple Heart

Sgt. Maj. Gifford, Purple Heart

Category: Real Soldiers

Comments (20)

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  1. Graybeard says:

    Well done, gentlemen.

    They are proof that one ought never to scoff at the “Weekend Warriors” – they, too, serve in harms’ way.

    And good job, Major General Burton.


      I concur GB.
      Until our Afghan Mission was under way; our reservists were jokingly called ‘SAS Troops’ (Saturdays AND Sundays) Especially by Regulars.

      You never seem to hear that anymore……

    • OldManchu says:

      Indeed. I thought it was awesome when the Army brought on the SF in an NG role. Gives some folks the opportunity to continue serving after they have decided to not be active duty anymore.


    BZ Boys!!!! Thanks for kicking ass! May your fallen brave Rest In Peace.

  3. AW1Ed says:

    “I really didn’t do anything more than my job…”

    Again, the humble words of the warrior hero.

  4. Ex-PH2 says:

    A fine job they did. More, please!!!

  5. Reddawg_03 says:

    Studs everyone of them.

  6. 26Limabeans says:

    Nobody hugged me for my ARCOM.

    Good job guys. The “weekend warrior” dub died a long time ago.

    • Ex-PH2 says:

      You need a hug, 26Limabeans? Awwww!

      • Wilted Willy says:

        Ex, this is just like my best boy, Pervis. I rescued him from a dumpster behind my office. He was very feral, had mites and fleas all over him. I took him to the vet and she told me he would have only had a week to live if I hadn’t brought him in for care. He only weighed 2 lbs. and after I took him back for his 2 week checkup, he had jumped up to 4 lbs. I have had him now for over 10 years and he is the love of my life. He stays with me all day and cuddles up under my chin all night. Feral cats are very much worth saving, all of my cats were feral. It just takes a lot of time and love! They can be saved if you spend enough time with them and of course give them lots of LOVE!!!

    • 11B-Mailclerk says:

      “Weekend warrior” …

      In today’s Army, every day is a weekend!

      A working weekend.

  7. MCPO NYC USN Ret. says:

    BZ UNG.

  8. HMC Ret says:

    I love me some kitties. Our feral rescue I named Kitty. We trained him to use the toilet. It’s true. Google it. Had him about 8 years and have bought maybe five kitty litters. When we go out of town, we put down the toilet lid, otherwise it would stink after several days. We put the litter container in the bathtub with the litter. He takes quite good care of himself when we leave for week or so. He tries to be tough but I’ve weaned that out of him. He’s my bud. He watches TV with me. I have to sleep in a Lazy Boy. I’ll wake up and he’ll be sitting on my chest, staring at me, his face just inches from mine. I love my Kitty

  9. Yef says:

    National Guard Special Forces is not the same than National Guard.

  10. Yef says:

    Huhh? A Captain with a Silver Star?
    He is going to be a General by next year. At least it seems he actually deserves it, unlike certain General who got a “meritorious” Silver Star for being the first BN Commander to make it to Baghdad in 2003.

  11. Sparks says:

    Well done troops! Damned well done indeed.

  12. rgr769 says:

    Congrats, 19th SFG(A) troopers. It looks like the 19th has come a long way since I served in your Group HQ S-3 section back in the ’70’s.

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