Bremerton native awarded Silver Star for bravery in Afghanistan
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD -- A Bremerton native received one of the military's highest honors today, the Silver Star, for heroic actions in Afghanistan. He is one of a thousand Army Rangers who recently returned from the conflict there.
Even though most troops have been pulled out of Afghanistan, the Rangers are still in the fight. Members of the 2nd Ranger Battalion recently returned from a deployment serving alongside the Afghan army. On Friday, 152 soldiers were recognized for their actions.
"The Silver Star is awarded to SFC Joshua Leach," boomed the announcement at the ceremony. The Army says the 32-year-old was pinned down by enemy fire last Jan. 1. He was wounded in a grenade blast, yet returned fire protecting a wounded Afghan soldier. "They fight side by side with us and we treat them as we treat each other," Leach said.
He continued to provide cover so that other wounded Rangers could get out safely. Despite being awarded the medal he credits the rest of his soldiers. "It made me very proud to see all of the men who served with me. And I get awarded for their actions."
Eleven other Rangers joined him in being awarded for their actions against a terrorist compound.Lt. Col. Kenneth Burgess, Ranger commander, described them as soldiers "who knowingly and very deliberately put themselves in harm's way to eliminate enemy threats."
Lt. Gen. Gary Volesky, the new I Corps commander, was once a part of this unit. He says the community needs to remember we still have troops in combat. "You've been fighting in sustained combat for over a decade. And because of who you are and what is expected you rarely get the thanks you deserve," Volesky said
"This is what we were born to do" Leach said. "This is what we were trained to do." He said he can't say if they will head back to Afghanistan anytime soon, but he's ready for his 13th deployment if needed.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord reports its has about 800 troops from various units still deployed in the region.