Area Guardsmen honored in wake of Afghan battle

A fire rages in the aftermath of an April 15 attack on Forward Operating Base Finley Shields outside of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

A fire rages in the aftermath of an April 15 attack on Forward Operating Base Finley Shields outside of Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Seven Mid-Missouri soldiers have been recognized for their part in an April battle at a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

The Missouri National Guard deployed about 55 soldiers and airmen with the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team (ADT) VI in March. A total of 48 medals were awarded as a result of that attack.

And two Missouri National Guardsmen, Master Sgt. Kevin L. Craig, Mokane, and Senior Airman Brandon Bumbales, St. Louis, have been recommended for the Bronze Star with Valor.

In the aftermath of the attack:

• 15 were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat.

• Five were awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Valor,

• Three received the Army Combat Infantryman Badge.

• Two received the Army Combat Medical Badge, and

• 23 received the Army Combat Action Badge.

Among the area soldiers, Craig received a Purple Heart and the Combat Action Badge in addition to his recommendation for a Bronze Star with Valor.

Sgt. Maj. Phillip M. Lederle, Hartsburg, was awarded the Army Commendation Medal with Valor and received the Combat Action Badge.

Spc. Arthur J. Johnson, Eldon, received a Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Sgt. Sean E. Cochran and Spc. Byron R. Helton, both of Jefferson City, each received the Purple Heart and Combat Action Badges.

Other Central Missouri residents who received the Combat Action Badge were Sgt. Nicholas A. Rowden, Vienna, and Sgt. Charles B. Gilbert, Meta.

In the April 15 attack on Forward Operating Base Finley Shields, Taliban insurgents used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device to breach a wall of the compound. Taliban fighters then entered the compound through the breach and a fire-fight with Afghan Army forces and Missouri National Guardsmen ensued.

In successfully repelling the attack, one Afghan soldier was killed and several Missouri Guardsmen were wounded.

For several years, Missouri ADT’s have been helping Afghan farmers in the Nangarhar Province create a sustainable agriculture program.

Information provided by Bill Phelan with the Missouri National Guard public affairs.

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