A member of 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C., was awarded the nation’s third highest medal for valor by Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander, International Security Assistance Force and commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, during a ceremony at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Feb. 14.
Sgt. 1st Class Chad E. Lawson, a communications sergeant with Operational Detachment Alpha 3116 and deployed as part of Special Operations Task Force – South, was awarded the Silver Star for his heroics during combat operations Aug. 4, 2010, in southern Afghanistan.
“What you did, frankly, was extraordinarily heroic,” Petraeus said before pinning the medal on Lawson’s chest. “Your team sergeant was down, others were down, and your instincts were to go and run through 500 meters of heavy machine-gun fire to the scene and rescue downed comrades.”
On that day, he and members of his team were caught in an ambush with approximately 45 insurgents attacking his unit. Lawson ran through a hail of enemy fire in order to rescue his downed team sergeant and organize forces for a medical evacuation.
“During his sprint, Sergeant Lawson was barely missed by [rocket-propelled grenade] and [heavy machine-gun] fire, with rounds chipping off the walls and ground all around him,” the narrative accompanying his award reads.
Lawson, a native of Cincinnati, called in a medical evacuation, and, “while still receiving heavy, direct and accurate deadly fire, for a second time he exposed himself” when he grabbed a fellow team member as well as Afghan Commandos on the mission, and led them in defense of a landing zone for the MEDEVAC helicopter.
Like his actions on that day, Lawson said his medal presentation was about his team.
“The nice thing about military honors is that rarely, if ever, is it solely your award,” Lawson said after receiving the Silver Star from Petraeus. “So I refuse to accept it on behalf of myself, but more for my team. Nothing anyone did out there was by themselves, on any operation, in particular that one. So for me to be recognized, by myself, is an honor for our team, our battalion and our group.”
Petraeus said Lawson exemplified what he called the “new greatest generation.”
“You did instinctively the right thing, which is the heroic thing,” Petraeus told Lawson. “It is really extraordinary to read in black and white what you did, and then to think about what that represented on that particular day, one in which you put it all on the line for your fellow members of the brotherhood of the close fight, and again, did something truly heroic.”