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Soldiers Of The Month Brave Gunfire And Explosions

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(KCEN) -- Fort Hood is celebrating several “Soldiers of the Month” for June.

On June 24, ten 1-8 Cav troops were awarded medals for their quick action and heroism when their Forward Operating base (FOB) in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, was attacked.

Now, four of them share the story of how they took down the enemy.

January 20, begins like any other day on FOB Pasab, as the unit loads up to return home about a month later.

The day suddenly turns tragic when car bomb blasts through a wall, and six insurgents descend with machine guns, AK-47's, and grenades.

Staff Sergeant Justin Ellis runs toward them firing back.

Then Staff Sergeant Logan Combs teams up with him, trading shots with the enemy, as Ellis tends to a critically wounded soldier.

”It’s all instinct. After training for so long to do one thing, you just kind of react,” says Combs, who has since been awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device, along with Ellis and Specialist Robert Zanfardino.

As the fighting continues, Combs shoots two insurgents, while Ellis drags their wounded comrade to safety.

After pulling another soldier away from a live grenade and he spotted rolling out of the hand of a fallen enemy and warning others, Private 1st Class Baris Edwards helps evacuate casualties and provide fire cover.

“I was just focused on getting the job done,” Baris says, who received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device for his actions that day.

Next, a vehicle with the Quick Reaction Force arrives to finish the fight.

Its gunner, Specialist Zanfardino, makes two kills, braving machine gun fire, as he leaves his seated position to stand tall with a rifle, after his mounted weapon is hit.

With three solemn words, he describes the moment the medal was pinned to his uniform.

 “It was sobering,” Zanfardino says.

It was a bittersweet honor, as he and the nine soldiers who stood at his side remember Chief Warrant Officer 2 Edward Balli, who was killed almost instantly.

Each of those whose lives were spared has his own way of honoring Balli.

Staff Sergeant Combs has a tattoo of Balli’s name on his right forearm.

“It's kind of a remembrance. It was kind of a big deal for me, because it was the first American casualty I've ever dealt with,” Combs says, “I definitely plan on telling my son and my children about what happened.”

Ellis hopes to one day be reunited with the soldier he and Combs rescued together.

He says, “I'd like to shake his hand, and it would be nice to see him, that he's doing alright now."

Forever they will remember all whom they saved and he who gave all.

Full List Of Medal Recipients:


·         SSG Justin Ellis

·         SSG Logan Combs

·         SPC Robert Zanfardino, Jr.


·         SSG William Thomas

·         1LT John McCluskey

·         SFC Trave Rhodes

·         PFC Baris Edwards

·         SGT Darius Dansby

·         SGT Robert Perry, Jr.

·         PFC Hunter Sims

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