News: Army Reserve citizen Soldiers receive Bronze Stars
FORT BELVOIR, Va. - Three Army Reserve Soldiers from 1st Information Operations Command Army Reserve Element were awarded Bronze Stars during a Welcome Home Ceremony here May 10.
The Soldiers, who just returned from a deployment in Afghanistan, were presented the awards by Maj. Anthony Thompson, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force – Afghanistan Information Operations Field Support Team Chief, for meritorious service as IOFS Team members in a combat zone.
The awardees were Capt. Trevor Diffley, 1st Lt. Thomas Gardiner and Staff Sgt. Arik Morris, all of whom supported multiple organizations dispersed across Afghanistan over the course of their deployment.
Diffley, a native of Fairfax, served six months at Camp Brown in Kandahar.
“We were able to raise voter registration by more than 200 percent ahead of elections in Shah Wali Kot, which is typically a hotly contested area.” said Diffley in regards to the operational successes he helped achieve.
Voter registration is seen as a key indicator of freedom of information and support for rule of law, and a key mission of success.
Gardiner, also a native of Fairfax, spent half of his deployment at Camp McCloskey in eastern Afghanistan south of Kabul.
As US forces began to exit Afghanistan ahead of an end of year deadline, he coordinated efforts to reassure the local population that security was being turned over to the Afghan National Security Forces in an orderly manner.
“Retrograde was a big part of what we did out there,” said Gardiner. “We wanted to defeat the abandonment idea that some Afghans had.”
Morris, a resident of Aurora, Colo., served at Camp Leatherneck, a large Marine Corps hub in southern Afghanistan, and worked to highlight the growing capabilities of Afghan security forces and their readiness to assume responsibility for their country.
All three Soldiers now look forward to readjusting to civilian life, spending time with family and going back to their former jobs.