| RAMADI, Iraq – A local soldier who helped pull his wounded men from a burning vehicle and ran alone through the streets of Ramadi to get them evacuated was awarded the Silver Star Jan. 27.
Staff Sgt. David S. Anderson of Batesville, 29, a section leader with 1st Platoon, B Company, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry with Task Force 1-37 under 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, was also presented the Army Commendation Medal with Valor during a ceremony on Camp Ramadi.
Anderson is the son of Jerry and Wanda Anderson of Batesville and is a 1996 graduate of South Panola High School.
Two other soldiers from the same unit, Staff Sgt. Jason P. Trumpower of Norwalk, Ohio, and Spc. Edward Reyes of Coral Springs, Fla., distinguished themselves in the same Sept. 24 incident and were awarded Bronze Stars with Valor.
Anderson said he doesn’t care for the publicity surrounding his award.
"I’m just glad I was there to take care of my soldiers and bring them home safely," he said. "To me, I was just doing my job and what I was trained to do."
The incident began when a dismounted team was attacked during an operation and several men were wounded.
Trumpower, a section leader, led his Bradley Fighting Vehicle in an attempt to evacuate the soldiers after a tank accompanying him had trouble negotiating the narrow streets.
The vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, disabling it and critically wounding the driver. Trumpower, pinned in the vehicle, maintained security and notified higher headquarters of the situation.
Anderson, who was also responding to the call for aid in his Bradley Fighting Vehicle, linked up with Trumpower and began evacuating the crew as another vehicle dealt with the dismounted casualties. Anderson was directing his vehicle back to Camp Ramadi when it, too, was disabled by an IED, wounding five inside.
The explosion knocked out communications and caused a fire in the rear compartment. Anderson, who had been outside checking his gunner and driver, attempted to let down the rear ramp and the troop door, but both were jammed.
Trumpower, with severe wounds to his hands and face, tried to get the cargo hatch open. With Anderson’s help, the two men were able to open it wide enough to evacuate the vehicle. Reyes, although also wounded and disoriented by the flames, found the fire suppression handle and doused the blaze long enough for everyone to escape.
Once everyone was out, Anderson took a rifle from the vehicle and single-handedly made sure there were no insurgents within a nearby building, while Trumpower guarded the wounded and Reyes, a medic, evaluated and stabilized them.
After they moved the wounded into the building, Anderson attempted to retrieve a radio and smoke grenade to signal their location, only to find both destroyed in the vehicle. Knowing the wounded driver was going into shock and could bleed to death without immediate evacuation, Anderson ran about 400 meters to try and get the attention of a nearby tank crew.
Unable to get the attention of the tank, he ran farther down the road to wave down a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, then led it back to the wounded soldiers, and subsequently supervised the loading of his men.
Col. Sean MacFarland, commander of 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division, presented each of the men their awards and praised the heroism they exhibited. He cited their actions as examples of living the "Warrior Ethos."
"They didn’t give up," MacFarland said. "They did not leave their comrades behind."
Trumpower said after the ceremony that he counted himself lucky for the other soldiers present who helped take care of the casualties. He said he remembers the incident "like it just happened yesterday."
"Sometimes I guess I would rather not have the award and not have those things happen," Trumpower said.
Reyes said he hasn’t thought much about the incident, but he was grateful his actions were held in high regard.
"We were pretty much alone out there," Reyes said. "It could have gone dramatically different than it did."
Both Reyes and Trumpower were also presented the Army Commendation medal during the ceremony.