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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Modern Wars & Warfare > Military Medicine

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Military Medicine Discuss aspects of this specialist field not covered in other forums.

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Old 24 Mar 08, 11:11
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Face of Defense: Woman Soldier Receives Silver Star

Face of Defense: Woman Soldier Receives Silver Star



Army Spc. Monica Brown, a medic from the 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, stands over Forward Operating Base Salerno in Khowst province, Afghanistan. Brown is the second woman since World War II to earn a Silver Star for gallantry in combat.

Brown, recognized for her gallant actions during combat in Afghanistan in 2007, is the second woman soldier since World War II to be awarded a Silver Star. She received the medal from Vice President Richard B. Cheney during a ceremony here March 20.

It was dusk on April 25, 2007, when Brown, a medic from the 82nd Airborne Division's 782nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, was on a routine security patrol along the rolling, rocky plains of the isolated Jani Khail district in Afghanistan's Paktika province when insurgents attacked her convoy.

"We'd been out on the mission for a couple of days," said Brown, who at the time was attached to the brigade's 4th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment's Troop C. "We had just turned into a wadi (empty river bed) when our gunner yelled at us that the vehicle behind us had hit an (improvised explosive device)."

The soldiers looked out of their windows in time to see one of the struck vehicle's tires flying through the field next to them. Brown had just opened her door to see what was going on when the attack began.

"I only saw the smoke from the vehicle when suddenly we started taking small-arms fire from all around us," she said. "Our gunner starting firing back, and my platoon sergeant yelled, 'Doc! Let's go.'"

Brown and her platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Jose Santos, exited their vehicle, and while under fire, ran the few hundred meters to the site of the downed Humvee.

"Everyone was already out of the burning vehicle," she said. "But even before I got there, I could tell that two of them were injured very seriously."

In fact, all five of the passengers who had stumbled out were burned and cut. Two soldiers, Spcs. Stanson Smith and Larry Spray, suffered life-threatening injuries.

With help from two less-injured vehicle crewmen, Sgt. Zachary Tellier and Spc. Jack Bodani, Brown moved the immobile soldiers to a relatively safe distance from the burning Humvee.

"There was pretty heavy incoming fire at this point," she said.

"Rounds were literally missing her by inches," said Bodani, who provided suppressive fire as Brown aided the casualties while injured. "We needed to get away from there."

Attempting to provide proper medical care under the heavy fire became impossible, especially when the attackers stepped up efforts to kill the soldiers.

"Another vehicle had just maneuvered to our position to shield us from the rounds now exploding in the fire from the Humvee behind us," Brown said. "Somewhere in the mix, we started taking mortar rounds. It became a huge commotion, but all I could let myself think about were my patients."

With the other vehicles spread out in a crescent formation, Brown and her casualties were stuck with nowhere to go. Suddenly, Santos arrived with one of the unit's vehicles and backed it up to their position, and Brown began loading the wounded soldiers inside.

"We took off to a more secure location several hundred meters away, where we were able to call in the (medical evacuation mission)," Brown said.

She then directed other combat-life-saver-qualified soldiers to help by holding intravenous bags and assisting her in preparing the casualties for evacuation.

After what seemed like an eternity, Brown said, the attackers finally began retreating, and she was able to perform more thorough aid procedures before the helicopter finally arrived to transport the casualties to safety.

Two hours after the initial attack, everything was over.

In the darkness, Brown recalled standing in a field, knee-deep in grass, her only source of light coming from her red head-light, trying to piece together the events that had just taken place.

"Looking back, it was just a blur of noise and movement," the Lake Jackson, Texas, native said. "What just happened? Did I do everything right? It was a hard thing to think about."

Before joining the Army at the age of 17, the bright-eyed young woman said she never pictured herself being in a situation like this. Originally wanting to be an X-ray technician, she changed her mind when she realized that by becoming a medic, she'd be in the best place to help people.

"At first, I didn't think I could do it," she said. "I was actually afraid of blood. When I saw my first airway-opening operation, I threw up."

She quickly adjusted to her job and received additional training both before and during her deployment to Afghanistan.

"I realized that everything I had done during the attack was just rote memory," she said. "Kudos to my chain of command for that. I know with training, like I was given, any medic would have done the same in my position."

"To say she handled herself well would be an understatement," said Bodani, who quickly recovered from his injuries and immediately returned to work. "It was amazing to see her keep completely calm and take care of our guys with all that going on around her. Of all the medics we've had with us throughout the year, she was the one I trusted the most."

Earning trust with a combat unit is not something easily earned, said Army Capt. Todd Book, Troop C's commander at the time of the attack, but it was something Brown had taken upon herself to prove long before the Jani Khail ambush.

"Our regular medic was on leave at the time," Book said. "We had other medics to choose from, but Brown had shown us that she was more technically proficient than any of her peers."

Having people call her "Doc" means a lot to Brown because of the trust it engenders.

"When people I've treated come back to me later and tell me the difference I was able to make in their life is the best part of this job," she said.

During her rest and recuperation leave in May, Brown visited Spray in the hospital and met his mother.

"I almost cried," Brown said. "Spray's mother was so thankful, and she hugged me. That was the moment that made me feel the best about what I did."

Even though she felt proud when she was informed that she was going to receive a Silver Star, she considers her actions to be the result of effort put into her by everyone she's worked for.

"While I'm not scared to get my hands dirty, I have to say that I never fully became a medic until I came over here and did it first-hand," she said. "I just reacted when the time came."

Due to her quick and selfless actions, both Smith and Spray survived their injuries.

(Army Spc. Micah E. Clare serves with the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)
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  #2  
Old 24 Mar 08, 12:31
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Sorry I'm one of the types thats all for women being able to fight, its not a preferred thing but they are very much capable of keeping a cool head and SPC Brown is a perfect example.

GREAT JOB SPC BROWN!
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Old 27 Mar 08, 03:18
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Old 11 May 08, 16:32
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Brown was interviewed for a NPR broadcast a few weeks ago. She handeled herself well and the interviewer did not say anythig particularly stupid. The interview version of the event was significantly different from the artical shown above.
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Old 02 Mar 10, 08:03
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I would guess not since hers is real. And we know Kerry's entire record is less than honorable for sure. Excellent Story and definitely a brave fine soldier as they all are.I am proud of all of our honorable men and women in service.
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Old 18 Apr 10, 17:44
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I would guess not since hers is real. And we know Kerry's entire record is less than honorable for sure. Excellent Story and definitely a brave fine soldier as they all are.I am proud of all of our honorable men and women in service.
BS ... the SS was given because it was Army women's month. Its a PR stunt. My downgraded BSM V was for the same thing... except I had 8 critical casualties.

SPC Brown was very brave... but she is being used by the ARMY APO.
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Old 18 Apr 10, 19:24
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I would wonder why she is posed for the picture holding a rifle? Do medics carry in A-stan? If you were not careful in reading the article, you might suppose she earned the medal shooting at the locals.

I do think she did well in this situation. I also wonder if the Airborne sends out females on combat patrols as SOP?

Call me ignorant if you will, but why is the Brigade Support Battalion going out on motor patrol?

Pruitt
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Old 18 Apr 10, 21:24
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Originally Posted by Bellerphon1971 View Post
BS ... the SS was given because it was Army women's month. Its a PR stunt. My downgraded BSM V was for the same thing... except I had 8 critical casualties.

SPC Brown was very brave... but she is being used by the ARMY APO.
Easy big guy. Many have had decorations downgraded for actions while others were not downgraded. I was actually at this very scene two hours after the IED/ambush. The officers and soldiers on the scene spoke very well of her actions that day. Politics may have played a part, but don't begrudge someone else's award. A BSM w/V is a very honorable award and I am proud that you were recognized for it.
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Old 18 Apr 10, 21:57
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Easy big guy. Many have had decorations downgraded for actions while others were not downgraded. I was actually at this very scene two hours after the IED/ambush. The officers and soldiers on the scene spoke very well of her actions that day. Politics may have played a part, but don't begrudge someone else's award. A BSM w/V is a very honorable award and I am proud that you were recognized for it.
Again I say BS I have a dead squadleader who's inital recommendation for the silver star is a still held up by the DA and he has been dead since 30 September 2005. He did it right... counter assaulting through the ambush and got two of the guys crewing the LMG laying fire before he took the AP 7.62x54mm round through his armor. Saved his platoon that day. How do I know the I have the power of attorney and am the POC for the widow who is still dealing with the Nonsense of HRC and the political hacks. (I wrote most of the DA 638s when we were back at base helping the PL and PS out because I knew how to write awards better than they did). Why hasn't his posthumous award been given, because the Taliban bodies were burned the next day. DA awards process is such a load of crap. I am telling you the awards process in the American military is deeply flawed, I am tired of running into JAG officer's who get bronze stars for driving a desk in BAF or KAF. Or my PL who BSM was originally an ARCOM because it so so well known he was tactically inefficient, he threw the race card. Even when we all swore up and down he hid behind the door of his Humvee screaming for air support instead of leading his men. The same douche bag called in 105mm's ( 3/319 AFAR) on top of us. The NCOs carried him through the deployment.

SSG John Doles ... his silver star is mentioned in the stars and stripes and all the email traffic I gathered from the chain of command. I have the original DA 638 and sworn statements. Currently the 3rd congressional inquiry is ongoing with the support of the John's former squadies and the company. So that is the main thrust of it.

Yeah I am angry, I call BS. I did when she got the award an paraded around by the army. Its not about my award. It the fact the whole awards process was BS. There is no doubt she did her job. I am a medic (infact I am a Whiskey 1) I have also 20 years experience as a paramedic I am 39. But the day they announced her award it was army woman's month. hell she was on the front cover of ASUA's Green book.

Answering the other guy's question.... since Somalia.... their has been a change in the way medics are looked at. I am ex 11B and 91W(68W). You are a rifle barrel in the fight until someone get hit. She is from a Fwd Support Bn she isn't in a line company. She was in the right place at the right time.
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Old 18 Apr 10, 22:01
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I would wonder why she is posed for the picture holding a rifle? Do medics carry in A-stan? If you were not careful in reading the article, you might suppose she earned the medal shooting at the locals.

I do think she did well in this situation. I also wonder if the Airborne sends out females on combat patrols as SOP?

Call me ignorant if you will, but why is the Brigade Support Battalion going out on motor patrol?

Pruitt
asymmetrical battlefield... females are in combat now. most BSB medics are armed with M16A2 muskets not M4's .....but that was in 2006 I am out now.
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Old 18 Apr 10, 23:36
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Sorry I'm one of the types thats all for women being able to fight, its not a preferred thing but they are very much capable of keeping a cool head and SPC Brown is a perfect example.

GREAT JOB SPC BROWN!
I am all for Medics: (Stretcher bearers) etc: carrying arms to defend themselves (male or female) because contrary to general beliefs they are not serving under the 'Red Cross' therefore do not have that protection. I added stretcher bearers to that because they are also medics: and it bought to mind that our battalion S/Bs had their rifles taken off of them and our M.O. 'did his nut' and asked the 'Powers that be' what we were supposed to do if attacked by a German, throw a role of bandage at him? And we were issued with sten guns. (God help us!!) As far as females serving in the front lines in other roles, you are not going to draw me into that one again!
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Old 19 Apr 10, 11:05
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Old 30 Apr 10, 02:39
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Bronze Star, Silver Star, she deserved one of them it seems. I can't bitch about her award just because others haven't gotten their just due.

And Bellerphon, I do understand where you are coming from, but I guess you're not blaming her anyway, just the BS system. They should be carefully screened of course, but I swear sometimes the powers-that-be think giving awards for valor should be like Sainthood...unless it serves a PR function or a CMOA function.

Just MHO
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