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    Retired NY Army Guard Master Sergeant honored for Iraq actions in 2024

    Master Sgt. Barsallo (Ret.) Bronze Star "V" Ceremony

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Stephanie Butler | Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, presents the Bronze Star...... read more read more



    Story by Eric Durr 

    New York National Guard

    A retired New York Army National Guard Soldier was recognized for his heroic actions 20 years ago in Iraq, during a ceremony at Division of Military and Naval Affairs headquarters in Latham on Thursday, June 27.

    Master Sgt. Luis Barsallo, who retired in 2021, received the Bronze Star Medal with “V’ device from Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York.

    The V device designates that the award is for valor. When awarded for heroism in combat, the Bronze Star is the nation’s fourth highest military decoration for valor.

    The award recognizes Barsallo’s actions in April and May of 2004, when his unit, the New York Army National Guard’s C Company, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment, was on duty in Samarra, Iraq as part of the 1st Infantry Division.

    The April action, recorded by the Army as the Battle of Easter Sunday, resulted in the death of Pvt. 1st Class Nathan Brown from South Glens Falls when C Company’s 2nd platoon was ambushed.

    Several members of the platoon were severely injured, but they survived thanks to Barsallo’s actions, Shields said.

    “Luis saved lives by staying calm and directing fires on enemy positions,” Shields said. “

    Then he went back out into the ambush kill zone to reposition a five-ton truck so that the machine gun could fire on the enemy and so that evacuation vehicles could get to the wounded Soldiers, Shields added.

    “He put himself in immediate and direct harm’s way to save his fellow Soldiers,” Shields said. “Luis was determined that others would not die that night.”

    A Bronze Star awarded for heroism is a rare award, but in this case, it is well deserved, Shields said.

    Barsallo should have received it earlier, but the New York battalion was attached to an active Army brigade, and the original paperwork got lost, said Major Katie Schin, the executive officer of the New York National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion.

    She and some other admin experts decided to find the documents, and resubmit the award, Schin said. The hardest part was finding the officers who would have signed the awards form back in 2004; the battalion, brigade, and 1st infantry Division commanders, she explained.

    They stuck with it, because what Barsallo did in 2004 deserved recognition, Schin said.

    “It actually feels great to get this award,’ Barsallo said. “Because of the group of people I had in Iraq, it’s because of them that I got this.”

    The people he served with during his career in the Active Army and Army Guard, helped him become a better leader, and bring the eight members of his squad back home, Barsallo said.

    In 2004 the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment was deployed to north central Iraq as part of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division. The battalion’s C Company was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, which was responsible for the city of Samarra.

    On Sunday, April 11, 2004, in what became known as “The Battle of Easter Sunday”, Barsallo’s platoon was ambushed by insurgents with IEDs and rocket-propelled grenades.

    This was the ambush in which Brown was killed.

    According to Army records, Barsallo quickly deployed his squad to respond to the attack. Then Barsallo left his covered position to drive a 5-ton truck out of the kill zone and positioned it to provide suppressive fire on the enemy, allowing six badly injured Soldiers to be evacuated.

    Barsallo then led his squad in an assault on the enemy positions until the quick reaction force arrived to take over the fight.

    NBC News Anchor Tom Brokaw interviewed some of these Soldiers after they returned from Iraq and featured them in a special report called “Tom Brokaw Reports: To War and Back” in 2005.

    The second incident, according to Army records, took place on May 29, while Barsallo’s squad was attached to A Company of the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment at a blocking position. The squad came under fire from enemy small arms and rocket- propelled grenades.

    Exposing himself to enemy fire, Barsallo ran to a machine gun position. He took charge of the machine gun crew and directed fire at the enemy, killing two insurgents and forcing the rest to withdraw.

    “Barsallo's strong leadership, unmatched personal courage, and strong situational awareness, successfully eliminated the enemy, allowing for the successful completion of the A Co mission,” the citation says.

    Barsallo retired from the New York Army National Guard in May of 2020 after 29 years of service in the Army; 8 years in the active Army and 21 years in the New York Army National Guard.

    He currently works as a healthcare navigator for the Albany Housing Coalition which provides veterans housing services.


    Date Taken: 06.27.2024
    Date Posted: 06.27.2024 16:01
    Story ID: 475058
    Location: LATHAM, NEW YORK, US

    Web Views: 470
    Downloads: 0