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Bragg soldiers receive medals for battlefield courage

Three Fort Bragg soldiers who survived firefights in Afghanistan that they thought they'd never walk away from were honored Friday for their courage on the battlefield.

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Three Fort Bragg soldiers who survived firefights in Afghanistan that they thought they'd never walk away from were awarded medals Friday for their courage on the battlefield.

Capt. Ryan Schloesser and Sgt. Erik Crouch each received a Bronze Star, and Sgt. First Class Marius Orhon received an Army Commendation Medal for Valor.

All three are members of the 91st Civil Affairs Battalion, which works as a liaison between the field commanders and the civilian population in Afghanistan. The battalion recently returned from an eight-month deployment.

Schloesser and Crouch were honored for their efforts during a 10-hour battle on May 25. Schloesser was leading a Civil Affairs team on a reconnaissance mission when they were attacked by Taliban forces.

"I can't even describe it to this day – the rain of gunfire that we had, all of the aircraft coming in and dropping bombs," Schloesser said. "Everybody out there fought bravely during those 10 hours."

Crouch was a medic on the team. He had to treat a wounded comrade, only to see a fellow medic shot. Dodging bullets with no cover, he ran his patient to a helicopter.

"(It was a) horrible day, just a bad situation," he said. “Honestly, at the time, no, I didn’t think I could (survive).”

Schloesser was credited with exposing himself to enemy fire to recover critically needed ammunition, ensuring the survival of the team and its position.

"You kind of just go into automatic pilot and doing what we've been taught," he said. “I was really proud of what my soldiers did. We made it out alive, and that’s what’s important.”

Orhon was on patrol on Feb. 18 when insurgents attacked. He maneuvered through heavy enemy fire to lead Afghan National Army forces to safety.

"I knew that this is what I was coming into when I joined the military. I expected no different," Orhon said.

Orhon credited his extensive training for preparing him for the fight.

“When it happens, reality kicks in, and everyone reacts differently," he said. "Thank God everyone reacted the way we expected them to."

About 40 Civil Affairs soldiers were honored Friday for their service.



Bryan Mims, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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