News: SECDEF Medal for Valor awarded to contractor for actions in Afghanistan
Story by Lt. Col. Sonise Lumbaca
WASHINGTON— The Department of Defense honored an Army contractor with the highest civilian award for valor at an awards ceremony held at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes April 14.
Mr. David Jensen, a Wexford Group Inc. contractor who served with the U.S. Army Asymmetric Warfare Group as an Operational Adviser until 2013, was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor for his actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.
The medal recognizes government employees and private citizens who perform an act of heroism while risking personal safety in the face of danger.
Jensen, a Lemmon, S.D., native, who served with the 75th Ranger Regiment and United State Army Special Operations Command before being honorably discharged, now works as a Special Operations Task Force Adviser at Fort Bragg, N.C., for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.
Maj. Gen. Mark MacCarley, the deputy chief of staff for the Training and Doctrine Command, presided over the ceremony and presented Jensen with the award.
“This ceremony is not only about you [Dave], or for you, it is really for us. We asked –your leaders, your supervisors—we asked you to be here; one, because we are going to give you a medal and say thank you. But, really because we needed—all of us— to confirm that our lofty values, the ones that we scribe on monuments like duty, selfless service, loyalty— that they mean something; and, that they are more than words just found in a dictionary. Those word—selfless service, duty, loyalty, commitment to others, purpose—they only make sense, they’re only understandable, when Dave and men and women like you turn those words into visible actions of extraordinary courage,” MacCarley said.
While deployed to Afghanistan as an AWG Operational Adviser, on Sept. 10, 2012, Jensen was embedded with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. The AWG provides operational advisory and solution development support globally to Army and Joint Force commanders to enhance Soldier survivability and combat effectiveness, and enable the defeat of current and emerging threats.
During Jensen’s embed with Company C, they were preparing to fly out of Bagram Air Field on a partnered air assault operation with Afghan National Security Forces to Parwan province when one of the two CH-47 Chinooks they were to travel in was struck by a rocket. The rocket hit the fuel tanks, setting the aircraft on fire.
For his part, Jensen immediately began evacuating wounded paratroopers and ANSF members from the burning aircraft. Despite the danger involved, he returned to the aircraft several times before it became engulfed in flames. In total, Jensen evacuated four wounded Soldiers from the wreckage. Shortly thereafter, he provided immediate aid to the wounded.
“So, not only do we salute you Dave, and applaud what you did that day, but more importantly for each one of us out there, we thank you for inspiring us to do what is right, to take the high and sometimes hard road and to affirm all that is great about the American Army,” MacCarley concluded.
Looking back, Jensen summarizes his actions on that day as situation awareness and vigilance.
“You didn’t have time to think about [the situation]. You didn’t have time to plan for it. You didn’t have time to talk about it,” Jensen said. “People with situation awareness just had to act.
He added that taking action and remaining “switched on,” is a key part of vigilance.
“I just knew we had a problem. I was able to help and I tried to fix the problem as best as I could,” Jensen said.
For Jensen, who currently resides in Whispering Pines, N.C., the honor of the recognition was far from his thoughts when it came to risking his life to save others.
“Being honored at the Pentagon Hall of Heroes is remarkable,” Jensen said. “I never would’ve imagines that in my entire life. So it’s a huge honor and I’m very blessed to be here to be a part of it, and very blessed to be a part of the Asymmetric Warfare Group.”
Date Posted:04.15.2014 08:54
Location:WASHINGTON, DC, US
Hometown:BISON, SD, US
Hometown:FAYETTEVILLE, NC, US
Hometown:FORT A.P. HILL, VA, US
Hometown:FORT EUSTIS, VA, US
Hometown:FORT MEADE, MD, US
Hometown:LEMMON, SD, US
Hometown:PINEHURST, NC, US
Hometown:SOUTHERN PINES, NC, US
Hometown:WHISPERING PINES, NC, US