WEST FORT HOOD — Staff Sgt. Adam Davila said he had been deployed to Afghanistan three times, but April 25 was the first time he was in the “least desired situation.”
He and his team were following up on a lead in the mountains of southern Afghanistan during a deployment with 2nd Squadron, 38th Cavalry Regiment, 504th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, when “one bad thing happened, then another bad thing, then another bad thing,” Davila said.
Spc. Daniel Evenson said they had heard a couple of things about the area and as they approached the mouth of a cave, he said they saw people inside.
Davila asked them to put down their weapons; they did not and shots were fired.
Sgt. John Lowry was shot and Spc. Conner Daley sustained a broken leg. Somehow Davila became trapped.
Evenson said his Army training kicked him into action.
“(Lowry) was hit in the side and bleeding out pretty bad. I did everything I could do for first aid ... to a certain extent while the enemy was still firing upon us,” Evenson said. “It was not so much thought, it was an understanding of what was needed.”
When the situation began, 1st Lt. Steven Hail was taking cover.
“At the time, I knew I had a couple guys down and they needed help,” he said. “I ran from my covered position to help fallen comrades.”
Hail said he first ran to Davila, helped him get free and they then brought Daley to safety.
“In that moment, with the men out there ... I thought what can I do to recover these guys and make sure no one dies?” Hail said.
Their efforts were successful, and despite a deadly situation, every American soldier made it out alive.
On Friday morning, the brigade, which returned from a yearlong deployment in July, held an award ceremony on Ready Field, where nine men involved in that incident were awarded medals and two soldiers wounded in two different incidents received Purple Hearts.
Davila and Hail both earned Silver Stars. Hail also earned a Purple Heart. Sgt. Christopher Ernst and Evenson received a Bronze Star Medal with V device. Staff Sgt. David Smothers, Sgt. Scott Simpson, Lowry, Daley and Spc. Zachary Trice each received an Army Commendation Medal with V device. The “V” is for valor.
“Every single man on the battlefield did his job,” Davila said.
First Lt. Jonathan Pechon received a Purple Heart for injuries sustained July 16, 2011, in Nawa Valley, Afghanistan, as did Spc. Phillip Bergerson for injuries sustained in the same area Nov. 5, 2011.
Brig. Gen. Dean Milner, Canadian deputy commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, said these 11 soldiers have shown their teammates they live the Army values every moment of every day. He highlighted the Army values selfless service, courage, loyalty, duty and honor as being of particular importance.
“This Army is defined by its core values and bound by honor,” Milner said. “It’s the very definition of a team.”