Army Soldiers Honored for Saving Lives in Afghanistan Suicide Attack
Sergeant Joshua Sears, Specialist Garrett “Doc” Young and Sergeant Mark Andrisek, of 4th Platoon, Alpha Company, 127th Airborne Engineering Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division were honored on December 19 for their life-saving valor after a suicide bomber attack in Afghanistan.
General Mark Milley and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Dan Dailey awarded the three men with Army Commendation medals with V devices for saving the lives of their fellow soldiers in a suicide bomber incident on November 13 in Kandahar Province. Young also received a Combat Medical Badge from the Commander of the Army Corps of Engineers.
It was the first deployment for Spc Young, the medic, and Sgt Andrisek, but the second for Sears.
The tactic of the enemy has been to load up a van with woven plastic bags- which could be filled with fruits and vegetables…or explosives. The gunner in the lead vehicle spotted the van first, and made it stop. But as the convoy drove beside it, the driver blew himself up. It’s a scenario that has played itself out numerous times in Afghanistan.
The RG-33’s hood, which took six soldiers to carry, was blown nearly 300 meters away in a field. The blast also knocked the helmets off both the RG-33’s driver and the platoon leader in the front passenger seat.
When Sears dismounted and reached the scene, Young was already treating Spc. Kimkirvie Mapaye, the driver. He was “pretty messed up,” with severe burns on his arms, face and neck. Two other soldiers, though “walking wounded,” were helping out.
Someone shouted that a soldier was still inside the truck. When Sears climbed in, he could see his platoon leader’s legs on the roof, but he couldn’t pull 1st Lt. Victor Prato out. To make matters worse, the truck was on fire.
“There was three separate little fires going — or not little,” Sears said. “The ground was soaked [with fuel].”
Andrisek, of Victorville, Calif., coordinated efforts to put out the fires, set up security and sweep a helicopter landing zone for secondary explosive devices.
“Doc had pretty much all the help he needed,” Andrisek said. “Instead of like getting too zoned in on … the casualties, you can’t forget where you’re at, so I started emplacing security … started like multitasking.”
Sears went to work attempting to extricate Prato from the truck. By carefully lifting the roof of the vehicle, they were able to get himwithout further crushing him.
The miracle of that incident? No one died- because the three men were able to treat the wounded, and establish a security perimeter.
The men weren’t sure that receiving the medals should be such a big deal, since they were “just doing what they were trained to do.”
On December 21, President Trump visited Lt. Prato at Walter Reed Hsopital and presented him with the Purple Heart.
One of the most powerful moments of my life watching @POTUS give the Purple Heart to this American Hero. Amazed by the strength and resilience of the men and women in our Armed Forces. pic.twitter.com/AtoaboF4DE
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) December 21, 2017
Featured photo: US Army phot by Sgt 1st Class Juan Munoz. The three pose with actor Gary Sinise, who was visiting Bagram Air Base at the time.