COLUMBUS, Ga. - Six months after they were killed in Afghanistan, Sgt. Patrick C. Hawkins and Spc. Cody J. Patterson of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment were posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Valor Device during a combat awards ceremony Tuesday at Fort Benning.
Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence, also presented a Silver Star, 10 other Bronze Stars, 33 Purple Hearts and 18 Army Commendations with Valor Device for the battalion's latest deployment between Aug. 20 and Dec. 17. During the period, the battalion conducted more than 140 missions that killed or captured 250 enemy insurgents and leaders.
Hawkins, 25, and Patterson, 24, were killed Oct. 5 while trying to help eight Rangers caught in a series of improvised explosive devices. Knowing more bombs lay in front of them, Hawkins and Patters aimed to evacuate the wounded to a medevac helicopter.
“These Rangers sacrificed themselves in an attempt to provide aid to wounded members of their assault force in dire circumstances,” the citation stated.
The battle also took the life of Lt. Jennifer M. Moreno, 25, assigned to the Madigan Army Medical Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Moreno, a nurse, triggered an IED when she tried to help another wounded soldier.
Moments later, Patterson stepped on a similar device. He and Hawkins were mortally wounded. Special Agent Joseph M. Peters, assigned to the 286th Military Police Detachment in Vicenza, Italy, was the fourth soldier killed as he triggered two more devices.
After another roadside bomb detonated and left a Ranger’s right leg amputated, Spc. Samuel Rae Crockett rendered aid to the wounded soldier and cleared a path for the helicopter landing zone to recover casualties and equipment from the battle field. He was responsible for recovering the body of Moreno.
Crockett received a Silver Star for his bravery in the battle.
“Despite the imminent danger inherent to maneuvering through the IED belt, Spc. Crockett repeatedly elected to enter uncleared areas and in the process, recovered 14 total personnel,” the citation stated.
Bronze Stars were presented to Sgt. 1st Class Moradda J. Tedesco, Sgt. 1st Class Kerry S. Wertz II, Spc. Logan T. Howard, Senior Airman Tristan S. Windle, Staff Sgt. Aaron A. Arnold, Staff Sgt. Ryan L.Flora, Staff Sgt. Richard J. Cessna, Staff Sgt. Kelan W. Horton, Staff Sgt. Zachary P. Skinner and Cpl. Joshua L. Hergis. The Rangers were cited for helping to recover wounded soldiers from the battlefield and to clear the area of explosives.
Arnold of Medway, Ohio, said the challenge shows what soldiers are made of as Rangers.
“I was proud to see all of my other brothers up there” said Arnold, the recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. “I’m happy to be in such a great organization. Proud to serve with fellow Rangers.”