National Guard Members Honored for Bravery in Afghanistan - - Jackson, MS

Jackson 01/21/07

National Guard Members Honored for Bravery in Afghanistan

Members of the Second Battalion 20th Special Forces were honored Sunday for their bravery in Afghanistan.

Governor Haley Barbour was on hand at the ceremony held at the National Guard Headquarters in Jackson.

Mississippi Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Harold Cross pinned purple hearts and bronze stars  on the chests of soldiers who completed their overseas mission.  

Cross said,  "These medals reflect their courage and our pride in them, but their true courage is in their heart."

Approximately 100 members of the 2nd Battalion 20th Special Forces Unit received honors and awards for their service in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom.

They returned in September after a year of duty.

Sgt. Maj.  Benjamin Lee of Brandon received one of two purple hearts for injuries he suffered from a machine gun in July during a raid on insurgents near Kabul.

The battalion's surveyor was moving through an alley when rounds of machine gun fire struck him.

After returning fire,Lee said he moved to a concealed position.

His unit called for air fire, and the area was secured by an Apache helicopter.

Lee said, "The radio actually saved my life, and I can say for some reason the night before I had actually moved my radio to that location, so somebody upstairs was actually looking out for me."

Governor Haley Barbour spoke to the troops congratulating them on their dedication and service.

Barbour said,  "We have taken the battle to the terrorists on their turf."

Thirty eight bronze stars and numerous army commendations were also awarded.

Maj. Gen.  Cross added,  "They went 8,000 miles away, defended freedom in the great barren terrain of Afghanistan in a very dangerous country so that we could live free here at home. We should keep on remembering these brave soldiers."

Many special forces members were serving their second or third tour in Afghanistan, most volunteer to return.

Also honored during the ceremony was 36 year old Staff Sergeant Christopher Robinson of Brandon who was killed march 25th of last year during a combat patrol.  

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