News: FOB Fenty defenders recognized for combat actions
Story by Spc. Richard Daniels Jr.
FORWARD OPERATING BASE FENTY, Afghanistan -- Two soldiers assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division were awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor, Dec. 30, by U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of Combined Joint Task Force-101 and Regional Command - East.
The awardees, Army Staff Sgt. Edward Colon, a motor transport operator with Company A, 426th Brigade Support Battalion, and Army Spc. Erie E. Paxton, a nodal network systems operator with Company C, 1st Special Troops Battalion, were presented the medals for successfully repelling a June 30 attack at Forward Operating Base Fenty.
During the attack, insurgents attempted to breach the walls of the FOB. Colon and Paxton engaged the targets despite heavy fire from rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire.
Paxton, a Columbus, Kan., native, was working in the guard tower at the time of the incident. He saw two vehicles, one rigged with explosives, speeding toward the base entry point and took immediate action to thwart the attack. According to the award citation, Paxton engaged the vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, causing it to miss its target. The vehicle exploded against a wall and he was injured in the blast.
“I ducked to avoid getting hit by a whole lot of the blast,” Paxton said. “I got shrapnel pieces along the side of my face, popped my ear and ruptured both eardrums. I was bleeding out of my ears and down the side of my face pretty heavy.”
After quickly regaining his composure, Paxton then engaged the second vehicle after three insurgents began firing on the tower.
“I opened fire out the window since the windows were all blown out. I ran out of ammo ... so I ran down the stairs, picked up an AK-47 (assault rifle), took a position in the bunker and defended the gate from there.”
Walking nearby, Colon, a Clarksville, Tenn., native, heard the explosion of the first VBIED and immediately headed in that direction. There, he shot one of the insurgents who attempted to throw a grenade into a bunker where a soldier and three Afghan security guards were pinned down.
Immediately, Colon went to the tower and continued to fight when a suicide bomber detonated near him. With disregard for his own life, Colon moved out into the open and fired an AT-4, light anti-tank weapon, at one of the enemy fighting positions, destroying it and killing three insurgents.
Paxton’s initiative and Colon’s quick reaction that day saved countless lives and military equipment on NATO’s third-largest base in Afghanistan.
“It was about six months ago today, these two individuals did some great, great stuff here,” said Campbell. “They will just tell you they were doing their job. I’m glad to have the opportunity to award these two the Bronze Star with Valor today.”