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Fort Drum soldier receives Distinguished Flying Cross


FORT DRUM — Coming to the aid of the wounded, flight medic Staff Sgt. Brian D. Cammack made the difference between life and death for several soldiers in the rough Afghan terrain.

As he and his Black Hawk crew came under major enemy fire on March 29, 2011, he moved himself up and down from his helicopter a number of times to help treat and evacuate a handful of soldiers. At one point, he stayed on the ground for an hour treating soldiers after he loaded in two wounded soldiers for extraction.

In total, he helped clear six critically injured soldiers and recover three soldiers killed in action.

His bravery in action was recognized Friday at a ceremony for 18 soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division's Combat Aviation Brigade. Sgt. Cammack, of West Bend, Wis., was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross, one of the military's top honors.

“I'd definitely give it back if even one of those soldiers could come back,” Sgt. Cammack said.

He said he was proud and humbled by the award, and credited his fellow crew members for their work during the engagement. He said his training reduced the stress of the situation, saying the repetition made “everything click.”

The presentation of the award to Sgt. Cammack was considered uncommon, owing to the limited number of enlisted soldiers within the aviation brigade; most are officers.

Several speakers at the ceremony highlighted the importance of aviators in stressful conflicts.

Maj. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the post and 10th Mountain Division commander, told the assembled soldiers and family members that for infantrymen, the support from aerial forces was critical.

He said that in crisis moments, two calls often went out.

“You call for God, and you call for the United States Army Aviation,” Gen. Milley said.

Col. Pedro G. Almeida, the brigade's commander, said it was important not to let the frequency of soldiers' courageous actions lessen their significance.

“It's so common that we often forget what we're asking them to do,” Col. Almeida said.

Attending the ceremony was Col. Walter E. Piatt, who takes over as the division's deputy commanding general for support. Col. Piatt, who previously was stationed on post from 1999 to 2003, replaces Brig. Gen. Kenneth R. Dahl. Before coming to post, he led the Army Infantry School at Fort Benning. Ga.

In addition to the award presented to Sgt. Cammack, 17 other soldiers were presented Air Medals with Valor at the ceremony: Capt. Thomas G. Jones, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Steven D. Badgley, Chief Warrant Officer 5 William E. Butler Jr., Chief Warrant Officer 5 Matthew Carmichael, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Daniel Berriochoa, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Stefen S. Blasingame, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tavis D. Anderson, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Benjamin Locke, Spc. David Capps, Capt. Jeffrey Gray, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Michael Gazda, 1st Lt. Thomas Terry, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Justin Seimet, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Alvin Melvin, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Derrick Rodriguez, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Fernand P. Muffoletto and Chief Warrant Officer Sean Hennessy.

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