NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan (Dec. 15, 2009) – When U.S. Army Col. Kenneth C. Braddock, from Columbia, S.C., pinned the Combat Infantry Badge on U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Wesley R. Hawk , from Savannah, Ga., at Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, it signified the next chapter in their long and interesting careers.
Hawk swore to protect and defend his country, 20 years ago, and he found himself almost immediately going to war, assigned to then Capt. Braddock’s company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, one of the first units to be deployed to the Middle East for Operation Desert Storm.
“I remember it as if it were yesterday,” Braddock recalled. “In 1990, young Spc. Hawk was my gunner...and I was his first company commander out of basic infantry school. He was one of my best.”
After seven months of fighting, Braddock awarded Hawk with his first CIB.
“It’s an honor to pin the CIB on a Soldier the first time, because wearing one myself, I can tell you it is one of the few [military awards] that I had that I will always wear no matter what.”
When the two men met in eastern Afghanistan, 19 years later, it was to repeat an infantryman’s most privileged moment.
Braddock again pinned Hawk with a CIB, this time with the star designating a second award.
“It is a big honor to be awarded the same badge a second time and have the same person pin it on me,” Hawk said.
Embodying the cliché of ‘a Soldier’s Soldier,’ Hawk’s men say he is a man of few words and was uncharacteristically emotional as he shared his thoughts.
“There is a lot of history between me and Col. Braddock and I really appreciate him being able to do this,” Hawk said. “A lot of the leader I am today I attribute to my first line leaders at the beginning of my career.”
As a platoon leader for Troop C, 1st Squadron, 108th Cavalry Regiment, assigned to 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Hawk emulates the managing style of Braddock and his first platoon sergeant. The lesson he has always carried is that a good leader reflects the personality of his team.
“Good leaders are made from their men it reflects directly on [the leader],” Hawk stated. “Your responsibility is to know your individual Soldier and bring those different personalities together. Your men make you a good leader and I rely heavily on my men.”
“Only in the military can you see this level of devotion,” Braddock said, while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his former Soldier once again. “It’s tough to be in the military. Especially in the case of [Sgt. 1st Class] Hawk, as a National Guardsman, taking time out of his civilian life and his civilian career to serve his country and his fellow Soldiers that’s something very special.”
|< Prev||Next >|