Private First Class Andrew R. Small, B co, 1/32 Infantry, 10th Mountain Division.
Andrew was a friend of my son, and lived up the road in Wiscasset, Maine. He was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2006, and his death was mourned through the area. Almost every store, business, church, school, had a message on their fronts, and hundreds lined the streets to view his funeral procession. His was a life of laughter, mischief, and love, not only with his family, but with his friends. They have started a memorial page on FaceBook, which you can see here.
19 years old. A small town kid. Many in this nation wonder where we are headed, and despair of our future when they read of the problems facing our youth. If Andrew was any sort of representation of America’s youth, then I’d say the nation will be in good hands. My son joined the Army in part as a tribute to his friend, to help finish the work that Andrew was a part of. I think that that is as good a reason as any for serving. It shows the respect others had for this young man.
In support of that assertion, I post below the Presidential Citation which accompanied Andrew’s Silver Star. Read it through, and then visit his FaceBook memorial and look at the pictures. God Bless them all.
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Andrew R. Small, Private First Class, U.S. Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 32d Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, in Afghanistan, on 11 August 2006. On that date, Private First Class Small was attached to the lead element of a 22-man platoon on patrol in the mountains of Nuristan, Afghanistan. Three hours into the patrol, the enemy ambushed the Americans, waiting until the patrol’s point man had passed their concealed position before opening fire. The attack caught the entire lead group in the kill zone. Three Americans were killed immediately and the remainder of the platoon was pinned down under enemy fire. Private First Class Small was located as the sixth man in movement in an extremely tight trail. During the initial fire, he and the rest of the squad were pinned down by accurate small arms fire. The only cover available was to hug the side of the mountain, which did not allow his squad to return fire. His team leader, Sergeant Smallwood, was then hit by an RPG, which seriously wounded him and left him exposed to enemy fire. Private First Class Small exposed himself and laid down suppressive fire against the well-fortified enemy position. By doing this, he drew fire to his own position, but he refused to seek cover. The action allowed his team leader to drag himself over a cliff to cover. At this time, the enemy launched another barrage of rocket propelled grenades into Private First Class Small’s position. This volley severely injured two soldiers who later succumbed to their wounds and struck Private First Class Small in the back by shrapnel. Even though Private First Class Small was wounded he got back up and continued to lay down suppressive fire, refusing to seek cover or medical aid until he was able to facilitate the maneuver of his squad out of the kill zone. Private First Class Small continued to engage and be engaged by the enemy who outnumbered him by seven to one. This allowed the rest of the platoon and close air support to suppress and kill the enemy. When the patrol leader was able to move up to Private First Class Small’s position, he found him lying in the trails, weapon in his hands, orientated toward the enemy and out of ammunition. Private First Class Small’s sacrifice directly saved the lives of three other squad members and denied the enemy an opportunity to pursue its advantage over the pinned down Americans and declares that his sacrifice was the most significant reason members of the squad were able to survive the ambush attack.