Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Soldier in Heroic Battle to Receive Silver Star

"By Sgt. Nicole Kojetin
1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs

BAGHDAD – “Men, you have one second in your life where you can decide if you are going to be a coward or if you are going to fight. The time to decide is now.

That sentence is something that Maj. James “Jim” Gant, who serves as the chief of the Iraqi National Police, Quick Reaction Force Battalion Transition Team, tells his policemen all the time, encouraging them to fight for what they believe in.

Though most the time he was talking in generic terms, this time he knew the fight was waiting for them. For six weeks his patrol of three armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and 23 “soft-shelled” national police pick-up trucks had been getting in fire fights with an organized insurgent force in an area between Balad and Baghdad. On Dec. 11, his patrol was finally on their way back home. Gant knew there would be a grand finale.

“We took frequent trips back and forth in the area and the engagements kept getting bigger,” the Las Cruces, N.M., native said. “They knew that we were going to leave. They are a determined enemy force. They wanted to give us a going away present, and we definitely wanted to receive it.”

His actions, during that gift, resulted in him earning the Silver Star, which will be awarded on May 3 at a Iraqi National Police station near Forward
Operating Base Prosperity. The Silver Star is the third highest award given for valor in the face of the enemy. It is given to American heroes.

Gant knows four Soldiers who have earned Silver Stars; two died for them. He said heroes are everywhere, it just depends on if they get the chance to show it.

“There are a lot of very good Soldiers, very brave Soldiers that have never had the opportunity to show it,” he said. “As good as you are, you don’t control the enemy. I have been blessed since 2001, since our nation has been at war to fight with incredible warriors and heroes.”

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