All assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), stood before more than 60 guests at a Valor Awards Ceremony June 28, 2005 at U. S. Army Special Operations Command here as Lt. General Philip Kensinger, USASOC commander, awarded each the Silver Star.
Listening to the retelling of their fearless actions was emotional for the Soldiers.
“It was humbling because I have two buddies not with me anymore,” Felix said of the Sept. 20, 2004 ambush in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, where he rallied Afghan National Army Soldiers to fire back on the ambushing anti-coalition militia. “But at the same time I’m honored.”
The award keeps the memory of his fallen comrades alive, Felix said.
For Watts, the ceremony was an opportunity to recall the May 12, 2004, firefight near Karbala, Iraq, where, while serving as the senior medical sergeant and assault cell leader, he left his own vehicle to administer life-saving aid while under intense mortar and small-arms fire to two crew members of a disabled tank. He then assumed command of the tank.
Modest about their awards, Felix and Watts, both instructors at Camp Mackall, said they have incorporated their combat experiences into the training scenarios used to indoctrinate potential Special Forces Soldiers.
Recognizing the importance of first-hand knowledge in this unconventional war, Watts said he “wants to make sure I can pass my experience to the junior guys.”
Telling the audience they were in the company of heroes, Col. Patrick M. Higgins, commander of the 3rd SFG, praised the men for braving hostile fire, repelling assaults, deflecting ambushes and being upstanding men.
The men, however, say they feel they did nothing extraordinary or worthy of receiving the fourth highest medal in the Army.
“It was instinctive,” asserts Felix, who has been in three near ambushes. “The training kicks in and you do what you need to do.”
“The medal means a lot to the team as a whole because it’s a reflection of the team,” said Watts, insisting his individual actions didn’t deserve an award. “If it wasn’t for their support, it could have been a different outcome that night.”
No lives were lost in the Karbala attack.
Colucci was awarded the Silver Star for his unwavering bravery during an ambush in Afghanistan June 25, 2004. He was serving as the senior engineer sergeant.
While conducting a recovery operation of an improvised explosive device, Colucci’s convoy came under attack. Although he suffered a gunshot wound to his abdomen, Colucci maneuvered his vehicle into a protective position and pulled security for his fellow Soldiers until reinforcements arrived. He then manned the door gunner machinegun while his element moved into a secure area to wait for medical evacuation.
The Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.