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NEWS | Feb. 23, 2012

Afghanistan: Georgia Army Guard member presented award by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

By Army National Guard Sgt. Christopher Hall Georgia National Guard

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (2/23/12) - Georgia Army National Guard Spc. Robert Schrader was awarded the Army Commendation Medal Feb. 10, by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan.

Schrader serves as an agricultural specialist and security force specialist with the Georgia Agribusiness Development Team 1.

"It was an extreme honor to be awarded this medal by General Dempsey," Schrader said. "It's not every day that you get to meet the highest ranking officer in the United States military- much less get presented an award by him."

On Sept. 10, 2011, Combat Outpost Sayed Abad suffered a major enemy attack when a vehicle born improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonated outside the main gate.

The VBIED was packed with approximately 1500 pounds of homemade explosives (HME).

Schrader was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his actions following the attack.

The blast caused extensive damage to the COP, causing dozens of buildings to collapse as a result. Schrader was in his living quarters preparing to go to chow when the VBIED detonated.

"I was getting ready to go eat when I heard the boom," Schrader said. "Initially I thought one of the [Howitzers] had malfunctioned, but, when I stepped out and saw the mushroom cloud of dust I knew that was not the case."

According to the narrative that accompanied the award, Schrader maintained his military composure while the COP was experiencing chaos and confusion.

He immediately reported to his noncommissioned officer in charge and worked toward physically locating all members of the Civil Affairs and Military Information Support Operations (MISO) elements.

"My main focus after I had accounted for my fellow team members was to just do the right thing," he said. "As soon as I stepped out of the office my training kicked in."

Schrader rushed down to the impact area and began the difficult and arduous task of extracting wounded personnel from damaged buildings and moving them to the casualty collection point for evaluation. He assisted medical personnel by providing buddy-aid and ensuring casualties with head injuries stayed awake.
"When Schrader ran off to help, I didn't have to worry about him," said Army Master Sgt. James Horne, Wardak-South NCOIC for the Georgia ADT. "I knew he would do the right thing."

For the remainder of the day and into the night, Schrader assisted the medical staff and helped load casualties on aircraft. In the midst of uncertainty and immediate danger, Schrader consistently put the welfare of others above his own.

"I definitely did not expect to get an award for my actions that day," Schrader said. "My Command Sergeant Major is always telling us to 'do the right thing,' that's all I was trying to do."