Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav and Sgt. Eric Provost
LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – It was a simple ceremony, but for eight 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers, it was something they will be able to talk about for years.
During a visit to Forward Operating Base Gamberi, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno recognized their efforts by presenting each of them with his official coin.
In the military, service members are presented with a coin for performing an outstanding deed.
Spc. Christopher Ward developed an energy plan that will save 4th Brigade Combat Team an estimated $430,000 over the course of the deployment.
"That gives me a lot more motivation to keep doing what I'm doing," said Ward, a generator mechanic with G Company, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. "It makes it worthwhile knowing that it's appreciated, that people do see it, and they don't just take it for granted."
Ward also rebuilt multiple generators on both FOB Gamberi and FOB Mehtar Lam.
"It was a really big honor," said Sgt. Scott Sayce, an operations sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT. "For him to give his time and come see us here, it really means a lot."
Sayce received the symbol of appreciation for his service acting for not only as his company's operations sergeant, but also its armorer, clerk and sometimes even its executive officer.
Spc. Mitchel David, 5th Battalion, 25th Field Artillery Regiment, Task Force Thunder, and Pfc. Omar Ross, a medic attached to 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Warrior, 4th BCT, also received Odierno's coin.
David not only served as his battalion commander's gunner, but he is also his unit's resident expert in the Capability Set 13, the Army's new networked suite of individual Soldier devices designed to increase battlefield command and control. David trains many of his fellow battalion Soldiers.
Spc. Michael Rogers, a member of 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, also was honored by the chief of staff.
Rogers stood out for his efficiency in the nightly refueling and rearming of all aircraft on FOB Mehtar Lam. FOB Methar Lam is a blackout FOB, which means that everything done at night is done without manmade light.
Ross distinguished himself by stabilizing casualties after an improvised explosive device injured seven Afghan National Army soldiers and civilians. Ross also assisted in getting the victims to a higher level of care.
Each Soldier was nominated by his peers and leaders to receive the chief of staff's coin.
Some of the Soldiers said they were only successful because of the people supporting them, and they accepted the symbol of appreciation from Odierno on behalf of the colleagues who nominated them.
"I was just lucky enough to be the recipient of a coin that I believe was for the efforts of a lot of people," said Sgt. 1st Class William Cossins, an adviser for the 201st Afghan National Army Corps Tactical Operations Center. "The pat on the back really felt good, and I wanted to make sure that my guys knew that even though it was me standing there, the pat on the back was for all of us."
Supply specialists Sgt. Timothy Rogers of Task Force Warrior, and Pfc. Elizabeth Adan, a member of HHC, 4th BCT, also were recognized for their work in helping to facilitate Task Force Patriot's recent transfer of authority in Regional Command-East.
"Not a lot of people got a coin, and especially me, a (private first class), who hasn't even been in the Army a year," said Adan. "It feels pretty awesome. I don't know any other way to explain it.”
Some of the Soldiers said the recognition inspired them to work toward even greater goals. Ward plans on applying to become a warrant officer once the deployment ends.
Odierno briefly met with the leadership on Gamberi after presenting the Soldiers their coins and reaffirmed his confidence in them and the rest of the Army.
"Today we're the best Army in the world," Odierno said. "Five years from now, we'll be the best Army in the world."