Green Berets from 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group became the first, non-Canadian unit to receive that country’s highest unit commendation during an awards ceremony at John F. Kennedy Auditorium on Fort Bragg, May 23.
Forty-six Green Berets from 1st Bn., 3rd SFG were recognized by Lt. Gen. Stuart Beare, commander of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Command with the Commander-in-Chief Unit Commendation for their heroic actions during Operation Medusa, a September 2006 battle in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.
In total, 74 troops from Special Operations Task Force 31 received the award, including Air Force joint terminal attack controllers, or JTACs, who were attached to the SOTF and working with Special Forces A-Teams on the ground.
Green Beret Master Sgt. Jerad Eldred, senior medical advisor with 3rd SFG, recalls the battle and the enemy threat in that area.
“While on patrol, we were held up inside of a house where we had full view of the enemy’s main supply line and we set up an observation post,” Eldred said. “After further observation, we saw the enemy conducting resupply operations and we then eliminated that threat, unknowing that there was a significantly larger force behind them.”
That significant threat was also seen by Predator, an unmanned aerial vehicle, which was being monitored by the Advanced Operations Base 330 commander, then Maj. Jared Hill.
“When I made the call for a situation report, the answer I received was that there are too many … we can’t count them all,” said Hill, now a lieutenant colonel.
The operation began Aug. 26 and lasted until Sept. 14. During that time, the combined NATO forces fought an estimated enemy strength of 1,400, with about 550 combatants killed and two captured.
Beare put into perspective the importance of the operation and what was accomplished by its successful outcome.
“Operation Medusa was vital to the success of NATO forces in the area. The success of this mission prevented the fall of Kandahar and struck a significant blow to the Taliban forces in the area,” said Beare.
Besides receiving the award and recognition, Eldred has personal reasons to believe this operation was vital to their overall mission.
“It’s not about what rewards that you receive, but it really shows that we can trust our partner forces to watch our back in the fight and we have theirs,” said Eldred.
“The unique thing about this operation was the cooperation of each force that was involved. It was the shoulder-to-shoulder type of fighting that truly was the key to the success of this operation,” said Eldred. “Personally, I know if it was not for our partner forces in this battle, I would not have been able to make it home to see my son born.”
The award citation reads that after 1st Bn., 3rd SFG completed their initial objectives, they willingly engaged a much larger enemy force to secure the Canadian battle group’s flank and prevent the enemy from staging an effective counter offensive. Outnumbered and facing a well-prepared enemy, they were relentless in their assault and eventually captured the position after days of intense fighting.
“Our heartfelt thanks go out to the people of Canada and our Canadian brothers-in-arms for rendering this singular honor to these American warriors,” said Maj. Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, incoming commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command. “This day will be inscribed forever in the history for not only to this storied unit, but will be added as a singular achievement of the U.S. Army Special Forces Regiment.”