Army Captain John Tate of Park Rapids, Minnesota earned the Silver Star for his heroics in one of the Ramadi battles that was a precursor of the Anbar awakening. In the photo above from the ceremony held on December 4 at Al Taqaddum Air Base, General Odierno pins the medal on Captain Tate. According to the excellent story by Paul Walsh posted on the revamped Star Tribune Web site, Captain Tate paid tribute to his grandfather in connection with the award:
The elder Tate, who died in 2004, also received a Silver Star and stretched 23 years in the Army over World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
“He came back for every single one,” John Tate said in a telephone interview from Iraq.
Here is Walsh’s account of the battle in which Captain Tate earned the Silver Star:
Early in the morning of Feb. 24 in Ramadi, one of Tate’s platoons hit an improvised explosive device, injuring several Americans. In the six hours that followed, Tate said, he moved two other platoons into position along with Bradley armored vehicles.
“There were engagements every 30 minutes as we moved from block to block,” Tate said. “It took six hours to cover 500 meters of the city.
Tate made sure to note that “we kept the casualties [among the Americans] to a minimum. A few of his soldiers lost limbs, he said, but “the only way to ensure that we didn’t have more casualties was to push forward and remove the insurgents from the neighborhood.”
Before the morning was over, the insurgents were forced out and the area was under the control of the Iraqi police and U.S. forces and remains so to this day, Tate said.
There were 13 of his soldiers injured in the conflict, he said, “but luckily, all of them received medical care immediately and are still with us today.”
Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, is a city of 400,000 along the main highway running to Jordan and Syria, 70 miles west of Baghdad. The insurgents there are described as a mix of Islamic militants, former Baathists and tribesmen.
The punch line to Walsh’s story is unintentionally hilarious: “Various media reports from Anbar province say that resistance from insurgents has waned there of late.” You don’t say! Congratulations to Captain Tate for inducing the Star Tribune into breaking the embargo on the good news from Anbar, a feat that rivals the heroics that earned him his Silver Star.