by 10th SFG (A) Public Affairs Office
Sgt. 1st Class Jarion Halbisengibbs received the Distinguished Service Cross, and Capt. Matthew A. Chaney and Sgt. 1st Class Michael D. Lindsay received the Silver Star during an awards ceremony at the Special Events Center May 14.
The Special Forces Soldiers from Operational Detachment – Alpha 083 received the medals for their heroism in action Sept. 10, 2007. Advising a combined assault element of Iraqi national police on an intelligence-driven raid, their mission was to capture a high-value Islamic State of Iraq terrorist who was running a kidnapping and extortion ring.
Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, U.S. Special Operations Command commander, and Lt. Gen. John T. Mulholland Jr., U.S. Army Special Operations Command commander, presented the awards to the Soldiers.
“You have listened to and read the account of that night,” Olson said, “a mission that asked the best of some of our nation’s finest.”
“This was ODA 083, a Green Beret A-Team in action, under pressure, at risk,” Olson added. “Sgt. (1st Class) Halbisengibbs exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors. He is a gifted team member and individual Soldier, one who raises the performance and morale of those around him. Today we will also recognize two more of them, Capt. Chaney and Sgt. 1st Class Lindsay, for their extraordinary courage in that action.”
During that raid, Chaney, Lindsay, and Halbisengibbs eliminated a heavily-armed and entrenched enemy force in a fortified stronghold. About 2 a.m., after infiltrating by air into an unplanned landing zone less than 30 meters from the enemy position, Chaney directed the assault force toward the targeted buildings.
Facing both brown-out conditions caused by the rotor wash of the helicopters and only 10 percent illumination, the assault force immediately came under enemy fire. Despite the conditions, the three Special Forces leaders directed their Iraqi counterparts and initiated the assault on the array of buildings. After clearing the closest structure, the assault element immediately came under enemy machine-gun fire from the furthest building, causing a dangerous pause in the momentum of the assault.
Lindsay and Halbisengibbs killed three insurgents who were firing from the building as the force assaulted. Chaney and Lindsay then placed themselves in a critical position at the breach point, while Halbisengibbs prepared to use a fragmentation grenade. Within seconds of entering the building, the three Americans killed two more enemy fighters. While trying to acquire targets through the haze caused by the grenade blast, Chaney and Lindsay were strafed by intense AK-47 fire. Chaney was shot through the pelvis, hip, and buttocks while Lindsay received gunshot wounds to the throat and abdomen.
Despite their serious wounds, they – along with Halbisengibbs – continued to engage the enemy inside until an enemy grenade exploded and wounded all three Soldiers. As Chaney and Lindsay lay wounded and exposed in the courtyard, the remainder of the assault force continued to fight insurgents in the other structures.
Chaney, although wounded, directed actions on the objective and killed another insurgent, who was firing at him. Lindsay had been thrown into the line of fire but continued to engage the enemy. Halbisengibbs was alone inside the target building and unable to contact the remainder of the assault force to request support.
Making his way out to the courtyard, Halbisengibbs came under small-arms fire and was shot in the abdomen; the bullet traveling through his stomach and exiting at his hip. Ignoring his wound, he engaged and killed more enemy combatants. Halbisengibbs then took cover and rallied the remainder of the Iraqi National Police and assisted in securing the objective area.
After the force was firmly in control of the objective, the three were evacuated to the Combat Support Hospital in Balad.
Chaney’s bullet and shrapnel wounds kept him in Balad for 24 hours where he received his initial surgery before transport to Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center, Germany. During the next eight days, he underwent two additional surgeries before final transport and care at Evans Army Community Hospital. Chaney has returned to duty, having recently returned from another deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and completed the Special Forces Combat Divers Qualification Course.
Lindsay’s bullet and shrapnel wounds were assessed in Balad. He was immediately medevaced to Landstuhl, where he had almost two feet of his intestines removed. His follow-on stay at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., lasted three weeks. He returned to duty and, like Chaney, served another tour in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Surgeons in Balad worked to repair the wounds to Halbisengibbs’ hand and abdomen, during which time they removed about 7 inches of his small intestines. He was transported to Landstuhl, and on to Walter Reed with Lindsay, where he stayed for approximately three weeks. He returned to duty, and is ready for the next deployment.
Col. Darsie D. Rogers Jr., 10th SFG(A) commander, said that, “the feats of these brave men will forever have a place in history alongside other green berets who have fought the wars before us. These men, and many others like them, answered the call of their nation. They have done so as quiet professionals, as is expected of our green berets and special operators, and we pay tribute to the courage of these magnificent Soldiers and their selfless service to our nation.”