This week I attended an annual event put on by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which honored six young military heroes. The six represented each of the five branches of the U.S. military and the U.S. Special Operations Command. They were honored “for having distinguished themselves through superior conduct in the War on Terrorism,” and each received a Grateful Nation Award from JINSA. JINSA is a Washington-based think tank that focuses on issues of the U.S. and Israel in national security.
The honoree of the evening was Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who was awarded the 30th Annual Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Service Award. Graham serves on the Senate Appropriations, Armed Services, Budget and Judiciary Committees. He has long been a strong advocate for the men and women of the armed services. Sen. Graham served in the Air Force for six and a half years before he first won a seat in the House of Representatives in 1994. He served as a Staff Judge Advocate during the first Gulf War, and continues to serve in the U.S. Air Force Reserves. Graham is a colonel in the Reserves, and is assigned as a Senior Instructor at the Air Force JAG School. Graham, who was introduced by a previous recipient (1997) of the Scoop Jackson Award, outgoing Senator Joseph Lieberman, reminded the audience that Congress continues to have Israel’s back. You can view all of the past recipients and the history of the award here.
The master of ceremonies of the evening was Fox News’ Catherine Herridge, who has stood out among reporters for her great coverage and scoops related to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th of this year, and the attempt to cover up the truth of what happened.
The Grateful Nations Awards were established in 2003. This year’s six individual award winners were introduced by Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, ADM James Winnefeld, and each of their heroic and very moving stories were read aloud. They are chosen by their respective branches of the military, and are meant to represent the heroism exhibited on a daily basis by all of the men and women who occupy our nation’s military. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be much interest on the part of the media to cover this event, or to highlight their achievements.
Below are the stories of the six military heroes as written in the program for the evening’s event:
United States Army
Sergeant First Class James Osaer
Sergeant First Class James Osaer, then-Sergeant Osaer, was severely wounded by an improvised explosive device near Baghdad, Iraq sustaining substantial and extensive injuries to the left side of his body. Due to his injuries, Sergeant Osaer was approved for reclassification into a new MOS within the Military Intelligence Field. He excelled at the Defense Language Institute studying the Arabic language and Arab culture. Deployed a second time to Iraq, Sergeant Osaer spent 12 months as the senior interrogator for an intelligence exploitation facility conducting well over 500 interrogations of insurgents and high-value individuals. He was personally responsible for providing a substantial amount of actionable intelligence to war fighters across the theater. Due to his superior performance, Sergeant Osaer was selected to serve in a military intelligence detachment at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), where he became the Army’s first ever Foreign Area Non-Commissioned Officer. After being selected, Sergeant Osaer attended the Army Foreign Area and Joint Foreign Area Officer Orientation course with assignment to U.S. Army Europe. The U.S. Army notes that Sergeant Osaer continues to strive for excellence and serves as a leader among our European armies to emulate. Despite the difficulties he and his family have faced together, his story is a shining example of how soldiers and their family members who face hardship are able to overcome and win.
United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Brian M. Riddle
A Specialized Search Dog Handler with Military Working Dog Platoon, 1st Law Enforcement Battalion, I Marine Headquarters Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Sergeant Brian M. Riddle distinguished himself during the period 2 June 2009 to 25 September 2012. In that time, he twice deployed to Afghanistan where he engaged in direct combat, recovered from serious combat wounds sustained in both deployments, demonstrated superior performance in advanced training, and was twice promoted ahead of his peers for meritorious service. Sergeant Riddle served with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Bravo Company, Team 2, and the 1st Paratrooper Regiment of Task Force 528, a British Special Forces Unit. Over the course of the two deployments, Sergeant Riddle and his assigned military working dogs Jony and Ffax, conducted 45 combat operations, accumulating more than 500 hours of combat patrols. They found 19 confirmed improvised explosive devices. Sergeant Riddle’s initiative, drive, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service. His personal awards include two Purple Hearts, the Combat Action Ribbon and the Navy Achievement Medal.
United States Navy
Petty Officer Second Class Eric J. Strauss
While deployed to the Fifth Fleet Area of Responsibility, Petty Officer Second Class Eric J. Strauss distinguished himself by exceptionally meritorious service while assigned to Joint Task Forces and serving as a Tactical Communicator for multiple strategic accomplishments during a combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Lead Site Communications Technician, Petty Officer Strauss was responsible for uninterrupted C4ISR information systems connectivity. He supported 65 Direct Action and sensitive low-visibility combat missions throughout Afghanistan. Petty Officer Strauss’ technical expertise, maturity, and tactical adaptation on a high threat battlefield provided invaluable connectivity to higher headquarters and multiple combat enabling assets supporting his efforts against enemy networks operating in both urban and rural environments.
United States Air Force
Technical Sergeant Clint T. Campbell
Technical Sergeant Clint T. Campbell, a Combat Control Element Leader with the 23d Special Tactics Squadron, 720th Special Tactics Group, continuously displayed uncommon valor during combat operations throughout Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During 23 firefights, he controlled more than 500 aircraft, delivered 52,000 pounds of air-to-ground munitions resulting in 131 enemy fighters killed, wounded, or captured. Twice wounded in combat, Sergeant Campbell, on several occasions, engaged the enemy at close range and rescued injured teammates while under high volumes of enemy fire. Additionally, he pioneered new tactics for resupply during helicopter medical evacuations under fire. For his selfless service and unwavering bravery in the face of grave danger he was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Silver Star. The distinctive accomplishments of Sergeant Campbell reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
United States Coast Guard
Petty Officer First Class Jonathan Tatroe
Petty Officer First Class Jonathan Tatroe exhibited superior service while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn as a Boarding Officer with Tactical Law Enforcement Team South from June 2010 to November 2010. He was the lead Boarding Officer during the rescue of a German vessel, the Magellan Star, which had been overtaken by pirates in the Red Sea. Petty officer Tatroe led his team aboard Magellan Star, secured the vessel, and captured all nine of the pirates involved. He was instrumental in the disruption of two pirate skiffs that had intentions to take over additional merchant vessels. As lead Boarding Officer, Petty Officer Tatroe was entrusted to make timely ethical decisions in high-stress environments in order to keep his team safe and effectively complete the mission. The command of Tactical Law Enforcement Team South continually entrusted him with the most complex, high visibility, and high-risk missions while in critical leadership positions. Petty Officer Tatroe’s exceptional accomplishments reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Coast Guard.
United States Special Operations Command
Master Sergeant Paul L. Wiseman, USA
U.S. Army Master Sergeant Paul Wiseman, serving with 4th Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 0431, led his detachment in support of a United States Ambassador’s efforts to re-establish a United States Embassy in Africa shortly after the fall of a brutal dictator. Sergeant Wiseman and his detachment made enormous and groundbreaking contributions to the stability and establishment of democracy in a fledgling government allowing the Department of State and Department of Defense to accomplish strategic-level objectives. Throughout the early months of 2012, Sergeant Wiseman led numerous in-country missions in support of the Department of State including verifying a viable ground emergency evacuation route for U.S. Embassy personnel, determining militia boundaries, developing emergency action plans including medical evacuation and in-extremis evacuation plans for American civilians. In March 2012, Sergeant Wiseman led a ground movement to a large ammunition bunker complex enabling a plan to destroy the large supply of munitions and prevent them from falling into the hands of Violent Extremist Organizations. His team planned and executed missions in the most arduous and dangerous cities with skill and expertise and provided close personal security for a high level delegation of Congressional and Federal officials that allowed them to safely meet with prominent local national leaders and discuss matters of strategic importance. Additionally, Sergeant Wiseman was instrumental in fostering the relationship between key U.S. agencies and local national military forces that eventually led to the U.S. Government’s decision to establish military-to-military relations. Master Sergeant Wiseman’s skill and expertise in leading his Detachment in a sensitive environment solidified the 1st Special Forces Group truth: Humans are more important that hardware.
You can read about last year’s honorees here.