By Army Staff Sgt. Joe Armas
1st Cavalry Division
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan, Dec. 2, 2011 – An officer assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was awarded the Army's most prestigious peacetime award for valor, the Soldier's Medal, during a ceremony here Dec. 1.
Army Capt. Dennis Edwards, right, an operations officer assigned to Task Force Lobos, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, receives the Soldier's Medal, the Army's highest peacetime award for valor, from Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, on Camp Marmal, Afghanistan, Dec. 1, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Armas
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Capt. Dennis Edwards received the award for his efforts to extract two drivers whose vehicles had caught fire during a traffic accident in Killeen, Texas, on the morning of Jan. 27, 2011, according to the citation.
Edwards, who hails from Baton Rouge, La., was on his way to work when he was at a stoplight and two vehicles collided on the other side of the intersection.
Edwards recounted his initial shock when the crash occurred.
"Initially, it took me back for a second," he said." I couldn't believe that both vehicles had burst into flames.
"As I approached the first vehicle," he continued, "all I could think to myself was that I had to react quickly to get both of the drivers out of those vehicles."
When Edwards approached the first vehicle, he said his initial intention was to extract the driver from the driver's side door.
But "there was too much fire on that side of the car, so I had to resort to the passenger side," Edwards said.
After extracting the passenger from the first vehicle, Edwards dashed to the second vehicle, and with the assistance of some other people who were at the accident scene, he extracted the driver of the sedan which was also in flames. After Edwards had repositioned both drivers away from the crash scene, one of the individuals who had assisted him called 911 and fire trucks soon rolled into the area to extinguish the fires.
Army Lt. Col William Huff, Edwards' supervisor, saw Edwards later that day. Huff said he was in awe of Edwards' subdued demeanor.
"He maintained his calm and cool, collective attitude the whole time; he was absolutely unflappable," Huff said.
Huff said Edwards had called in late that morning and hadn't mentioned anything about the accident.
"Come to find out, he was late because he was saving someone's life," Huff said. "He was thinking about his impact on the mission; he's the epitome of selfless service."
Moreover, it took an act of selfless service for Edwards to be awarded the Soldier's Medal. According to Army Regulation 600-8-22, Edwards' actions in earning the award, "must have involved personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy."
Huff said Edwards deserves the medal.
"Without thinking twice about his own personal safety, he ran across that intersection without hesitation to pull both drivers out of those vehicles," Huff said. "It just speaks volumes about his professionalism."
Edwards said the experience was one he would never forget.
"I learned a lot from that day — especially to not take the little things in life for granted," he said.
Edwards received the award from Army Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command.
"It's an absolute honor to receive this award," said Edwards, who joined former secretary of state and retired four-star Army Gen. Colin Powell as a fellow recipient of the prestigious honor
Sean P Eagan
Former Chairman American Cold War Veterans