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75th Ranger Reg.

Rangers honored for valor, heroism

Soldier on scene after Boston bombings

Published: 12:36PM January 9th, 2014
Rangers honored for valor, heroism

Jake Dorsey/Northwest Guardian

Sgt. Paul Cusack receives the Soldier’s Medal from Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza.

Sergeant Paul J. Cusack didn’t run the Boston Marathon last year to be a hero.

He left it as one, a fact recognized Dec. 20 by his fellow Rangers of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, where Cusack was awarded the Soldier’s Medal by 7th Infantry Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. Stephen R. Lanza.

Cusack, who was a corporal last April during the marathon, said he was one of nine Rangers who volunteered to run. Those Rangers had finished by the time he’d reached the 26-mile marker.

“I was sort of at the back of the pack,” Cusack said. “We were in a training cycle, which takes a little bit out of a guy.

“It was a beautiful, sunny day. I think the Red Sox had just won. Everybody’s in a festive mood.”

The 42-year-old Ranger said he heard the first bomb go off just as he hit 26 miles. He had just one thought at the time.

“My family members,” he said. “We’d gotten tickets for them at the finish line.”

Cusack ran the last 500 yards to reach the finish line. He came face-to-face with the scene America now is all too familiar with — Bostonians and others injured or killed, first responders rushing to help, people fleeing the scene.

Despite his exhaustion, Cusack moved in to help.

“I assessed from the last 10 to 15 meters who was the person in the most need, and went to the person in the most need, and then went from there to the second person, then the third person, trying to stop extremities from bleeding,” Cusack said.

Cusack isn’t a medic, but credited his Ranger training for his ability to respond.

“We’re so well cross-trained across each others’ jobs,” Cusack said. “We have to be able to do more than our MOS.”

Cusack said formal triage started just as he finished up, more than an hour later. It took time for medical professionals to move down to the site he was at. Boston police started to clear the area, and Cusack said he helped identify some things about the surrounding situation he picked up on.

Then he went to reconnect with his family.

“Those were some long 90 minutes for my mother, in particular,” Cusack said.

Cusack downplayed his actions and the Soldier’s Medal he received for them. The medal is awarded for acts of heroism not involving actual combat.

“The medal represents something for the unit as a whole, and the training we do,” Cusack said.

Cusack was one of several people to receive medals Dec. 20. Among the other awards:

The Bronze Star with “V” device, for acts of personal heroism involving conflict with the enemy, to 1st Sgt. Justin Viene, Staff Sgt. Keith Tyler, Sgt. Joshua Walkington and Spc. Nicholas Borgeson.

The Joint Service Commendation Medal with “V” device to Maj. Andrew Harris.

The Army Commendation Medal with “V” device, to sergeants Daniel Litzenberger and Mitchell Reddy and Spc. Stephen Torre.

The Defense of Freedom Medal to Department of Defense civilian Gary Toombs.

The Purple Heart Medal to 1st Sgt. Justin Viene; Staff Sgts. Benjamin Barczak, Sean Keough and Daniel Wood; Sgt. Joshua Walkington; and Spcs. Nicholas Borgeson and Joshua Overly.