A total of 104 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq since President Bush declared major combat over. That number could have been higher if not for the quick action of Sgt. First Class Javier Camacho of the Third Infantry Division. Today, the Army gave Camacho the Silver Star at a special ceremony at Fort Stewart.
SSgt. Charles Kilgore is one of the men whom Camacho saved during Operation Iraqi Freedom. "That night, March 25th, while we were moving southeast of An-Najaff, our tank was hit by direct fire and out ammunition exploded," he told us. "We were trapped in the tank."
Kilgore and some other soldiers got out, but were poisoned from the fumes and couldn't help their own gunner, who was still trapped. That's when Sgt. First Class Camacho and Sgt. Jeremiah Gallegos stepped in. "I crawled as slow as I could, cause the tank was still blowing up and rounds were going everywhere," Camacho recalled.
"If I could choose to be with anybody, I'd choose to be with him," said Sgt. Gallegos. "I felt the safest around him."
The fire was eventually put out, and thanks to Sgt. Camacho's leadership and bravery, he rescued the gunner from the tank. Because of his heroism, he earned the very high honor of a Silver Star medal. "To me, I was just doing my job," he said. "Afterward, after the adrenaline rush came out and I actually thought about it, I was like, 'That was pretty idiotic of me to climb up on the tank.' Cause we're taught not to do that."
Sgt. Camacho is with the Third Squadron, Seventh Calvary Regiment of the Third Infantry Division, which has earned more than 500 different medals and various awards.