U.S. Army Aviators get U.S. medals for valor supporting German forces in Afghanistan

By Christopher DeHart, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office
Dec. 14, 2010

Herrn Staatssekretaer Christian Schmidt, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence for Germany (left) and acting V Corps Commander Brig. Gen. Allen Batschelet (right) congratulate Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason LaCrosse, a pilot with U.S. Army Europe's C Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, during an awards ceremony in Hangar 2 at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Germany, Dec. 13. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher DeHart)
Herrn Staatssekretaer Christian Schmidt, the State Secretary at the Ministry of Defence for Germany (left) and acting V Corps Commander Brig. Gen. Allen Batschelet (right) congratulate Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason LaCrosse, a pilot with U.S. Army Europe's C Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, during an awards ceremony in Hangar 2 at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Germany, Dec. 13. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Christopher DeHart)

KATTERBACH, Germany -- Seven Soldiers with C Company, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, received the Silver Star and Distinguished Flying Cross medals Dec. 13 here during a ceremony honoring the air crews for their acts of valor in support of German Bundeswehr forces in Afghanistan in April.

Brig. Gen. Allen W. Batschelet, V Corps deputy commanding general and acting commanding general, presented the medals to the Soldiers of the battalion, which is part of U.S. Army Europe's 12th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The seven medal recipients -- Capt. Robert McDonough, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jason LaCrosse, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Nelson Visaya, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason Brown, Staff Sgt. Travis Brown, Sgt. Antonio Gattis and Sgt. Steven Schumaker - received the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr in Gold, or Bundeswehr Gold Cross, April 29. The cross is the highest award given by the Bundeswehr for a single act of valor in battle.

Herrn Staatssekretaer Christian Schmidt, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, and a host of German provincial and military representatives, also attended the ceremony here.

"It means a lot to us -- it really does -- to be recognized by both the German government and the American government for our actions that day," LaCrosse said. "It speaks highly of both nations to recognize Soldiers for acts of heroism, though we don't look at it that way. We look at it as we were doing our job."

LaCrosse gave a stirring speech on behalf of his fellow aviators and his brothers-in-arms from the Bundeswehr unit they were responsible for helping save that fateful day. It was April 2 -- Good Friday. His sentiments were echoed by others in the group.

"We are extremely honored and humbled by the experience. We were just doing our ordinary duty, but everyone else thinks otherwise. Still, it is very humbling to accept this award," Visaya said.

Before participating in the awards presentation, Schmidt talked about the importance of nations working together