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May 20, 2019

5/6/2019 12:00:00 PM

Soldiers assigned to 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, stood proudly in front of their leaders and peers, April 12, during an awards ceremony, presenting a medal of valor. Staff Sgt. Andrew Brant of Stacy, received an Army Commendation Medal with Valor for heroic actions six-month ago as part of Task Force Stalwart in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

On the morning of Oct. 4, 2018, a platoon from Alpha Company, Task Force Stalwart, encountered an improvised explosive device near Contingency Location Dwyer, Afghanistan, which  had immobilized one of the platoon's vehicles.

The Quick Reaction Force platoon was immediately notified. "Our platoon was the QRF platoon that morning," said Salinas, the platoon sergeant at the time. "We were doing one week as QRF platoon every other month, so we weren't doing it very often, we just got to be the unlucky platoon that got called upon that day."

Staff Sgt. Salinas and his platoon headed out to the site of impact with an Explosive Ordinance Disposal team to clear the path. "Once we were in position we helped the platoon secure the area," said Brant, squad leader in the QRF platoon at the time. "Shortly after helping secure the area, one of the medics and I saw a secondary (explosion) go off."

Brant said he vividly remembers seeing one of the EOD team members impacted by the blast. Without any hesitation Brant and Alexander Jimenez, QRF's platoon medics, sprinted approximately 50 meters to aid the casualty. Soon the medic for A Co.'s platoon arrived to assist. "Some younger and less experienced Soldiers will freeze and not know what to do, but someone with experience will let their training kick in and react quickly," Sgt. Salinas explained.

After medically evacuating the casualty from the area and learning of the Soldier’s passing, Salinas' top priority from that point on was talking to his Soldiers. "Whether they heard about the incident, we’re at the site where the incident happened or helped aid the casualty, Soldiers sometimes don't know how to react afterwards," said Salinas. "I wanted to let them get their thoughts and feelings out while it was still fresh on their minds."

Salinas added that he is proud of the work his Soldiers did that day. "Receiving this award to me personally is not a big deal," said Salinas. "It's more rewarding to know that we did everything we could to try to save someone's life, to me that's the most important thing."

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