638th Support Battalion (Aviation), Indiana National Guard
Some family names stretch across National Guard unit rosters back to the militia's beginnings. Prominent among those family names in Indiana is one that's synonymous with honor; the name Proctor.
Family members, friends and fellow Soldiers gathered in the atrium of the Indiana State House here Dec. 20 to pay tribute to one of Indiana's fallen, Sgt. Joseph Proctor of Whiteland, Ind. The Indiana National Guardsman was lost May 3, 2006, at Camp Ramadi, Iraq.
Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana National Guard Adjutant General R. Martin Umbarger presented Proctor's family with the Silver Star Medal, the third highest award for gallantry.
Among the ranks of Soldiers were three of Proctor's immediate family members: his son Joseph Jr., his brother Eddie and his nephew Bradlee. Another nephew, Eddie Jr., is still in training and was unable to attend. All enlisted in the months following the loss of Proctor.
Many years have passed since Proctor's older brother Eddie served, but soon after his brother's death, Eddie reenlisted in Joseph's unit as a Motor Transport Operator. It's a skill he brings after many years as a civilian long-haul driver.
"I heard they needed truck drivers in Iraq, and that's something I know about," said Eddie. "If I can continue what Joey started, I want to do that."
Joseph was an aviation fueler but volunteered for Military Transition Team duty in Iraq. He was embedded with a fellow Soldier into an Iraqi unit to train and mentor.
A group of Soldiers who served with Joseph traveled from New England to be with Proctor's family during the ceremony.
"We've never met, but have talked on the phone," said Sgt. Ben Hannur of Watertown, Conn. "Now, to actually meet them brings it into perspective. It's a big family, and they're close, close like we were in Iraq."
Hannur said the loss of Proctor was felt heavily, particularly among the Iraqi soldiers Proctor trained.
"Everybody knew him and he knew everybody. He made a huge impression on the Iraqis and they mourned him along with us," said Hannur. "He was the one you went to when you needed something, needed anything"
The most telling evidence of Sgt. Proctor's mettle and character can be found in the narrative of the incident that accompanied the presentation of the Silver Star:
"Sgt. Joseph E. Proctor, United States Army, distinguished himself by exhibiting exceptionally valorous conduct in the face of an enemy attack as Military Transition Team Trainer for 1st Battalion, 172nd Armor, Camp Ramadi, Iraq on 3 May 2006 during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"Sgt. Proctor served with 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 7th Iraqi Division as a Military Transition Team Trainer in the Anbar Province of Iraq. This is one of the most dangerous and challenging jobs a soldier can perform.
"Previously, Sgt. Proctor was a petroleum supply specialist who volunteered from the task force support platoon. He was in almost constant danger patrolling the most violent areas of the 5 Kilo District of Tammim, often with only one other coalition force member present.
"He would spend several consecutive days at Observation Post 293, one of the most isolated areas in Ramadi. This observation post had been a target for insurgents in the Tammim area and routinely came under attack. Sgt. Proctor was on duty the afternoon of May 3rd when Observation Post 293 came under one of the fiercest attacks since its establishment. At approximately 1415 hours on May 3rd, Observation Post 293 began receiving indirect fire.
"At least four rounds landed, some within extremely close proximity and some directly on the observation post. Sgt. Proctor was in a relatively safe location at the time, inside the barracks, which was a cement structure. Cognizant of the hazards outside the barracks and without any official order to leave the safety of the building, Sgt. Proctor quickly donned his protective equipment and secured his weapon. He developed an expedient plan, left the safety of the building to assess the situation and render aid to those on security who were under attack.
"Shortly after he entered the compound, the observation post was attacked with small-arms fire. It appeared they were under a complex attack. The severity of the attack ultimately was a diversion by the enemy in its attempt to destroy the observation post with a large, powerful and deadly vehicular suicide bomb.
"A large dump truck penetrated the west gate during the complex attack and continued moving toward the center of the observation post. Sgt. Proctor immediately and aggressively stood his ground in the compound, firing over 25 rounds from his M16 into the cab of the vehicular suicide bomb. He did not waver-he did not flinch, engaging the vehicle head-on as it was moving toward him and the remaining Soldiers in the building. He killed the driver of the dump truck before the truck could enter further into the interior of the compound. The vehicular suicide bomb detonated causing significant destruction from the point of the explosion. Sgt. Proctor was mortally wounded where he made his stand against the attack.
"Sgt. Joseph Proctor saved countless lives that fateful day by stopping the driver before he could reach his objective. His actions were nothing less than heroic and embody the warrior ethos by his selfless courage. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the Indiana National Guard and the United States Army."
By Sgt. Les Newport, Indiana National Guard