CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE TAJI, Iraq — The Order of Saint George bronze medallion was awarded to the assistant operations sergeant with the 155th Special Troops Battalion, 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Feb. 9 in a ceremony at the headquarters company building at Contingency Operating Base Taji, Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Henry D. Harper, a Plantersville, Miss., native, was notified 36 hours prior to receiving the award that he would be recognized as a platoon sergeant and leader of armor Soldiers.
"I can't put it into words how I felt when I received the call," he said. "It was like being on a Super Bowl winning team."
According to the official armor association Web site, http:www.armor-assn.org, the award is given only to the very best tankers and cavalrymen. Most active and Reserve Soldiers are eligible for the award.
Any Army colonel in a position to evaluate the fitness of the award nominee may approve a nomination for the bronze medallion.
Col. John M. Rhodes, the deputy commander with the 155th HBCT and Corinth, Miss., native, said it is always an honor to give awards of this caliber to a Soldier.
Rhodes, who is the president of the Armor Association with the 155th HBCT, said to be qualified, the Soldier must function in a leadership position in the career field.
"One must be armor qualified and belong to an armor unit," he said. "Harper was a tank commander and distinguished himself as a leader in all kinds of positions."
Rhodes said this was the first time he got to award the bronze medallion in a combat zone.
"Basically, that is what the medallion is all about. It makes it more fitting to be able to award it in a combat zone," he said.
Harper said it was an honor to receive the award.
"This is something I have been waiting my whole military career for," he said. "I didn't think I would see it in my military career. To be put in a group with some of the best armor Soldiers in the world is an honor."
The approval process is long and can take anywhere from four to six months.
"You have to be nominated by a senior officer, then the packet must be approved by a brigadier general, then that goes to the Armor Association to get approval by their commanding general," said Harper.
He said being awarded here in Iraq made it all the more special.
"It's been a blessing that I could have received this award," said Harper. "If it wasn't for really good [noncommissioned officers] and officers I have worked with, I would have never received this award."