Georgiana soldier receives Medal of Valor

Published 2:17 pm Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Georgiana soldier stationed in Iraq has received the Army’s Medal of Valor for helping lead stranded soldiers from a bombed transport to safety during a firefight.

Sgt. Rusty Tetter of Georgiana was one of four soldiers receiving commendation from the Army for actions taken on June 19 in Baghdad. Tetter is serving with the 926th Engineering Brigade in Iraq as part of the Protective Services Detail.

Army reports indicate members of the brigade Protective Services Detail were on a mission on the east side of the Tigris River in Baghdad when they were attacked. As they were traveling near the Sadr City area of Baghdad the lead vehicle was struck by an explosive projectile.

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Army Spc. Anthony Hutchins, public affairs officer for the 926th, said quick reaction and good driving skills by the driver, Spc. Jarrod Allen of Montgomery, helped ensure the safety of the crew and the passengers.

“There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that we were hit, no confusion, it was very clear,” said Allen.

Hutchins said after the vehicle came to a stop, Spc. Allen exited the vehicle with the assistance of Sgt. Curtis Calhoun, Truck Commander. Calhoun led Allen to safety after exiting the burning vehicle.

But Allen then returned unarmed to the truck with a fire extinguisher. It was engulfed in flames, according to Army reports.

“I thought there was the possibility that someone was in there, Spc. Thaddeus Lake specifically,” said Allen

Calhoun went searching for the passengers of his vehicle who ran to the opposite side of the street to take cover.

Tetter, was on the fifth vehicle, jumped from his truck and ran to the burning vehicle. From his original position he could not see who had gotten out of the truck if anyone.

“I thought the gunner, Spc. Lake, was still in the truck. I couldn’t see the passengers and I thought Lake was hurt,” Tetter said. “I had to get to them. I had to get to the truck to see if anyone was hurt.”

While under enemy fire he then led stranded soldiers from the burning truck to the safety of his own vehicle. He then went back into the burning vehicle to search for Lake who had already left.

Hutchins said the rest of the PSD cordoned the area and pulled security. Pfc. Jonathan Knight, the driver of the fourth truck, wheeled his vehicle as close as possible to the damaged truck in order to load passengers into any open space available.

On Aug. 15, Allen, Calhoun, and Tetter were awarded the Army Commendation Medal with “V” Device for valor and Knight was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for their actions on that day.