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'Pale Riders' recognize Soldiers for valor, courage

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The 'Pale Riders' 4th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, conducted an awards ceremony, honoring their troops for acts of valor and courage while deployed to Afghanistan, at the Marshall Airfield Hangar here, Jan. 25.

Lt. Col. Michael Katona and Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Cook, command team for the Pale Riders, honored 70 of their Soldiers with Purple Hearts, Bronze Star Medals and Army Accommodation Medals with valor, during the ceremony.

"Today is about the Pale Rider Soldiers, their incredible individual valorous actions and their leadership," said Katona. "It's also about wounds received from direct combat with the enemy in Afghanistan, the combat everyone in this Squadron was involved in on a daily basis."

The Pale Riders deployed to Afghanistan, late February 2011, to what Katona described as a "tough, dismounted fight."

"Because of persistence, valor, courage and individual motivation and discipline, we came together as a team, defeating dismounted explosive devices, maneuvering through thousands of canals and fighting an entrenched Taliban force," said Katona.

Sgt. 1st Class James Rogers, platoon sergeant, 2nd platoon, A Troop, 4th Squadron, 4th Cav. Reg., said the battalion occupied the Zharay District in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, providing security for the locals and integrating the Afghan Army and Police into their mission, in order to help the country build it's infrastructures build its forces.

"We occupied eight tactical infrastructures," said Rogers. "We spread our squad's footprint in order to cover more ground and create more Shuras (town hall, meeting place for village elders) for the people."

Although the achievements of the battalion remain impressive, it was not one that came without a price.

"We will always remember the Soldiers killed in action and the 144 living Purple Heart recipients," said Katona. "They gave their lives for the freedom of both Afghans and Americans."

"All of the Soldiers did excellent jobs in accomplishing their mission while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom," said Rogers. "It was fabulous for the Soldiers to be recognized during the awards ceremony as we honor those standing in formation, those present in the audience and those who did not return with us. None of our sacrifices will be forgotten."

Article by Sgt. Kandi Huggins, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs