I have had the privilege of working with the Soldiers of the German Bundeswehr numerous times in the last two decades. This included a year with them in Bosnia in the 90’s. I was always impressed with them as professional soldiers willing to do more on the world stage than the opportunities they had been given. They are still hampered by their legacy of WWII which prevented their support to NATO, or even the U.N., for decades. Language aside, the Americans and Germans always worked well together as professionals in arms. It’s good to see that this relationship continues on in Afghanistan. A brother in need of help will get it from us, no matter the language.
Semper in Hostis to all you rotor-heads of the 12th CAB!
Soldiers become first to receive German honor
By Sean O’Sullivan – The (Wilmington, Del.) News Journal
Posted : Friday Apr 30, 2010 12:21:46 EDT
Fourteen members of the Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade on Thursday became the first non-Germans to receive Germany’s Gold Cross, one of that nation’s highest honors for valor.
The soldiers, based at U.S. Army Garrison-Ansbach, Germany, were honored for medevac flights they performed April 2 involving German troops who had been ambushed by some 200 Taliban fighters while on patrol north of the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan.
The firefight was still going on when the Black Hawk evacuation helicopters — two medical transport helicopters and one heavily armed “chase” helicopter — arrived, according to what Army Capt. Robert McDonough, who piloted one of the medical helicopters, told his father, Jack McDonough.
“The two Black Hawks did a combined seven landings into the middle of this battle. My son told me that he could see rounds hitting the blades of his helicopter and there were bullet holes in the Blackhawks,” Jack McDonough wrote in an e-mail message. “He said the incoming fire was so bad that at one point he banked the helicopter real hard to avoid the incoming rounds. He told me he saw the Taliban celebrating, thinking they had downed them.”
According to a letter sent to the McDonough family by Army Maj. Michael S. Hughes, the medevac team “performed heroically in the face of extreme adversity,” and their actions saved at least five German soldiers “and probably countless more.”
The families of the soldiers were recognized in a ceremony at Ansbach as stand-ins for the soldiers themselves, who are still in Afghanistan.
Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, accepted the Gold Cross medals on behalf of the soldiers from German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg on April 21 in Berlin, according to The Associated Press. The soldiers will be presented to the soldiers in May.
Sens. Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman, both D-Del., who recently toured Afghanistan, congratulated the soldiers. Robert McDonough is from Delaware.
“I am grateful for the bravery and strength these 14 soldiers showed in saving the lives of … German soldiers,” Carper said in a statement.
Kaufman, who sits on the Senate’s Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, called McDonough “a true American hero,” adding it is an “incredible honor” for the U.S. soldiers to receive the Gold Cross.
Lt. Col. Norbert Rahn, a spokesman for the German Federal Ministry of Defense, said in an e-mail message that this award to the 14 U.S. soldiers marks the first time that any citizen or soldier from outside Germany has been given The Gold Cross, or Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr, for “outstanding achievements under danger for life and limb.”
He wrote that at least 11 German soldiers were critically wounded when the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade soldiers arrived. Three did not survive due to the severity of their injuries but the others were transported to safety.
He said without the assistance from the U.S. helicopters, it would have been impossible to get the wounded to a field hospital and Germany would be lamenting the loss of additional soldiers. Even though the helicopters were under “steady, heavy fire. … They completed their mission without hesitation, courageously and professionally,” Rahn wrote.