Green Beret awarded Silver Star for deadly Afghanistan mission

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The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration for valor awarded to servicemembers. ORRIN FARMER/U.S. MARINE CORPS
The Silver Star is the third-highest military decoration for valor awarded to servicemembers. ORRIN FARMER/U.S. MARINE CORPS

Green Beret awarded Silver Star for deadly Afghanistan mission

by: Emily Summars, Enid News & Eagle, Okla. (Tribune News Service) | .
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published: February 13, 2017

Trudging through mud up to their waists, members of the Army 10th Special Forces Airborne Group were determined to complete their mission in Afghanistan: Target known enemy safe havens and disrupt refit operations of several high-level Taliban leaders.

For this effort, Green Beret Sgt. 1st Class Brian Seidl was presented with the Silver Star award at Fort Carson, Colo., on Feb. 1.

Seidl earned the Silver Star for his actions during the Battle of Boz Qandahari, Afghanistan, on Nov. 2-3, 2016, according to the U.S. Army release.

The night’s fighting resulted in several casualties, including two Green Berets killed in action, and the loss of one-third of the 59-man force to injuries, according to the release.

The team cleared the first two compounds of interest (COI) without incident and collected intelligence. Bad weather was moving in, which meant it was time to move.

“We determined to bypass our third (COI) and go straight to our fourth,” said Seidl, team sergeant, in the release.

But there was a problem.

“The lead blocking position calls up and says, ‘Hey, we’ve got a huge metal gate blocking the road,’” Seidl said.

The area was a known Taliban hideout. Seidl and his team described the scene as “ominous.”

The team was ambushed.

“We heard a distinctive thud, and we both turned to look at the gate,” Seidl said. “That’s when the first grenade detonated.”

Several Afghan soldiers and sergeants were caught in the blast. The scene was lit up by attacking forces coming from all sides.

Seidl described watching his team leader, Capt. Andrew Byers, take action.

“Byers sprinted past me,” Seidl said. “He just ran straight into the smoke and the dust.”

Seidl followed suit and together the two pulled a fallen Afghan out of the “kill zone,” according to the release.

News came of another fallen Green Beret, who quickly was dragged back from the fighting by a staff sergeant. Seidl arrived at the Green Beret’s and staff sergeant’s location. Talking about the sergeant, Seidl said he was engaging the enemy from three directions, all the while protecting the man down.

Now the Green Beret is recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Back to the gate, Seidl and Byers attempted to breach it by throwing fragmentation grenades inside and rallying Afghan soldiers into action, according to the release.

“That’s when I hear the first boot kick the gate,” Seidl said.

Byers had attempted to kick the gate open and grab an object holding it closed. He was mortally wounded.

Thirty-minutes later and the team had the defensive foothold it needed.

MEDEVAC requests were called in, and reinforcements were requested to help facilitate movement out of the area into a landing zone, according to the release.

With about a third of his force depleted by casualties, Seidl’s team was forced to hold their position until a quick reaction force could arrive to assist in exfiltration, according to the release.

“For two hours we fought in that compound,” Seidl said. “(We) fought for our lives.”

But the fighting wasn’t over. The enemy opened fire again as the group attempted to get its wounded out of the fighting.

MEDEVAC was called to land immediately, picking up Byers, who died from his wounds during the flight. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.

The mission was completed the morning of Nov. 3.

“I felt content with the effects that we had on the enemy that night,” Seidl said.

In total, 27 Taliban insurgents along with three high-value area Taliban commanders were killed, according to the release.

“I feel content that their network was severely hindered and damaged, and probably going to be out of commission for quite a while.” Seidl said.

Seidl called it a “bittersweet victory” because the team was hit hard.

“For his efforts and taking charge of a severely injured and depleted force, leading them out of a kill zone and establishing a defensive posture that repelled every subsequent attack, for making the tough call on multiple danger-close air strikes near his own position in an effort to eliminate an overwhelming enemy force, and for leading every man under his charge out of a hostile city after inflicting catastrophic damage on multiple Taliban enemies, Seidl was recognized and awarded with the Silver Star Medal,” according to the release.

The team overall was awarded three Silver Star Medals, three Bronze Stars — two with valor— four Army Commendation Medals with valor and six Purple Hearts.

©2017 the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.)
Visit the Enid News & Eagle (Enid, Okla.) at www.enidnews.com
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