News: ‘Straight and Stalwart’ NCO awarded for valor
Story by Sgt. Patrick Doran
EAST FORT BLISS, Texas – Valor comes in different forms, and not every service member sees combat, but those who do must make the tough calls and perform their duty often in harms-way, and under fire.
Such is the case with Staff Sgt Robert Brenizer, a member of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, also known as the ‘Straight and Stalwart Battalion’ who was recently awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device during an award ceremony 11 January for the actions he took while his unit was conducting combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom last spring.
The Bronze Star Medal, which is the Army’s fourth highest combat medal, is awarded for heroic or meritorious service achievement, while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States, and the Valor device identifies the award from an act of combat heroism.
The incident for which Brenizer, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., was awarded the medal, occurred during the spring of 2011 when Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division were returning from a joint operation with the Afghan National Army to Combat Outpost Charkh from the village of Sheykan Wassad.
During their movement back to the COP, two grenades were launched directly at the command element, the first of which resulted in injuries to three personnel including the company commander, who suffered significant shrapnel injuries making him an urgent litter casualty. Orders were issued that Staff Sgt. Brenizer was to take a squad and begin a ground casualty evacuation, to link up with a quick reaction force that was enroute.
“He knew what he had to do,” said Brenizers platoon leader, 1st Lt. Stephen Connell. “That was secure with a forward screening element and make sure that the route was clear to the link up point.”
Connell, who is from Raeford, N.C., also said that he had complete confidence in staff sergeant Brenizer and knew he, would lead the squad to the link up point, which was over one kilometer away through enemy held terrain.
Brenizer, lead the squad and cleared the route under enemy fire allowing for the expedient evacuation of the critically wounded company commander. But Brenizer wasn’t done yet; he quickly reorganized his section and set up security waiting for link up from another platoon.
Within minutes that platoon was ambushed three hundred meters from his sections position. Again he maneuvered his section under enemy fire through an orchard into a support by fire position over the attacking enemy element. His bold maneuver immediately suppressed the enemy and began to draw the majority of the enemy fire on his position.
During the fire-fight one of his Soldiers M249 machine gun malfunctioned and again he snapped into action. Brenizer ran over fifty meters through open terrain to the guns location, cleared the weapon and began suppressing the enemy himself.
At the awards ceremony Brenizer thanked his fellow Soldiers and said that the award was as much theirs as it was his.
When asked about his actions that day, he said, “I was doing my job and it’s something that anybody else would do in that position, so I am very honored but at the same time very humbled.”