Paratrooper receives Silver Star

Posted October 9, 2008 8:05 p.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2008 12:54 p.m. EDT

— A paratrooper from the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team was awarded the Silver Star Thursday for his leadership during a combat operation in Afghanistan.

Sgt. 1st Class James Brasher was presented with the Silver Star for gallantry in action during a ceremony at the 82nd Abn. Div. War Memorial Museum.

"It's humbling to think those guys think I deserve something like this,” Brasher said.

To Brasher, leading his platoon through a dangerous gunfight is his job. However, to his country, his selfless leadership is worth the nation's third highest combat honor.

On Dec. 8, a Taliban fighter attempted to ambush Brasher and his squad. Brasher killed the gunman before he could harm the paratroopers. As the squad advanced to the next compound they came under small arms fire. Brasher threw grenades, suppressing the attack and allowing his paratroopers to maneuver to safety.

"I can't adequately describe the feeling of pride that I felt when I looked back at them and said 'Follow me,' and they came almost eagerly through this hurricane of enemy fire," Brasher said.

Brasher's arm was shattered in a hail of bullets. But the paratrooper kept shooting, hitting eight of the 20 insurgents his squad killed that day.

"The pain was something else. But we're out there in the middle of nowhere. It's not like you can just suck your thumb and stop,” Brasher said.

"He was always out front exposing himself, making sure it was safe before he put his men in any danger," said 1st Lt. Joseph McGovern, Brasher's platoon leader during the battle. "He would rather get hit than any of his other guys."

Brasher says he doesn't consider himself a hero. 

"If I'm considered to be a hero now, as a result of this, then I'm honored to be in such good company," he said.

If he heals fast enough, Brasher could be deployed again, late next year.

In seven years of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, with as many as 230,000 troops on the ground, only about 500 military members have earned the Silver Star, according to the 82nd Airborne Commander.