JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — With its deployment quickly drawing to a close, the 90th Sustainment Brigade out of Little Rock, Ark., 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) held an end-of-tour award ceremony, Feb. 15, at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Roughly 200 Soldiers earned awards, including Army Achievement Medals, Army Commendation Medals, Meritorious Service Medals, Bronze Star Medals and a Combat Medical Badge.
Spc. David White, a combat medic with the 90th Sust. Bde., was the only Soldier awarded the Combat Medical Badge, for his actions in the wake of an explosively formed projectile attack on a convoy while he was supporting D Company, 1st Battalion, 155th Combined Arms.
"It's an honor to get it, but the way you get it is bittersweet," said White, an Anchorage, Alaska native. "Somebody has to get hurt."
Three Soldiers suffered shrapnel wounds and White treated them all. He said all three have returned to duty.
Other special awards presented included three Order of St. Martin awards, which recognize those who have rendered conspicuous, long-term service to the Quartermaster Corps, and the 900-plus mile awards, which two Soldiers received for running, walking and biking more than 900 miles.
"I want to personally and publicly thank everyone here for your service," said Col. Gary Spry, commander of the 90th Sust. Bde. and a Fishers, Ind., native.
At the end of the ceremony, Spry shared a story about his service during the Gulf War. The ground war lasted only 100 hours, after which Spry and his comrades received awards, he said. At the time, he and his fellow Soldiers believed some of their awards had not been earned in such a short battle, but he said his commander set them straight.
Similar thoughts may have been in the minds of the 90th Soldiers at the ceremony, said Spry.
"We were supposed to be here a year," he said. "We were only here seven months. It doesn't matter how long you were here, you still answered the call."
Spry said one of his Soldier's proudest moments came in the wake of a tragedy at JBB.
In September, a helicopter trying to land in inclement weather crashed near the unit's housing block. Spry said his Soldiers were likely the first to hear the crash, and his medics were the first responders on the scene. They had only been in country for a few weeks, Spry said.
"I'm convinced they saved at least one life," he said.
Spry said that kind of bravery and readiness was common among his Soldiers throughout their deployment.
"I'm very proud of our Soldiers," he said.