Hundreds of members of the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment stood proud in front of peers and families to receive nearly 300 awards during a special ceremony at the battalion memorial on Joint Base Lewis-McChord April 13.
The unit returned Dec. 16 from a four-month deployment to Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.
Colonel Kenneth Burgess, 2-75 Rngr. commander, likened the current troops to those who fought in iconic battles in U.S. military history.
“Standing before you are Rangers no less noble, no less capable and no less deserving of our admiration,” Burgess said.
One of the Rangers was Staff Sgt. Miles Capehart. In addition to being awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor, Capehart was also awarded the Purple Heart.
On Oct. 23, during a Joint Task Force effort supporting Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan, Capehart took enemy fire within their target building. A grenade bounced off his chest and exploded on the ground near him.
Capehart suffered shrapnel wounds to his legs, chest and shoulder, including a sizable gash on his left shin that had a “pretty good blood flow.” He described being in significant pain as he helped drag another Ranger — Staff Sgt. Marcus Shoberg — out of the enemy building.
“Once I got him out of the impact area and I got tourniquets on his legs, I made sure my wound wasn’t life-threatening,” Capehart said. “I told (the medic) I’d walk it off.”
He led his platoon to continue the fight and also led the evacuation of other wounded Rangers. With support, Capehart organized a helicopter landing zone party and repositioned security.
It was only after returning to base when he sought medical attention. Capehart said he was proud to be with his peers who were also recognized.
“I’m standing among heroes,” Capehart said. “These guys deserve this, and to be up here with these guys is one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had.”
Shoberg suffered a blast injury to all four of his limbs and suffered massive hemorrhaging in both legs. He also lost part of a finger on his left hand and had a fractured right forearm.
Shoberg spent two months recovering in the hospital. There were no deaths of any Rangers or partner forces in what Shoberg considers a memorable battle.
“It was definitely one of the more interesting ones, but that’s what we train and prepare for all year long,” Shoberg said.
Five other Bronze Star Medal for Valor recipients also received Purple Hearts — Sgt. 1st Class Brett Mulvihill, Staff Sgt. Camilo Chincilla, Sgt. Christopher Chomyszak, Sgt. Nicholas Ige and Sgt. Carson Omilusik.
The rest of the Bronze Star Medal for Valor recipients were Sgt. First Class Alexander Bauld, Spc. Thomas Conway and Staff Sgt. Cody Scott, who was also one of 16 recipients of the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Valor.
Other Soldiers received the Bronze Star Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Combat, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal for Combat.
“We look at the world, and we ask a lot out of you; truth be told, we’re going to be asking for a lot more,” said Maj. Gen. James Kraft Jr., U.S. Army Special Operations Command commanding general. “But I’m comforted knowing that you will be on point leading the way, every step of the way with incredible courage, dedication and a dogged determination to get after this thing.”
Additionally, six individuals were recognized as honorary members of the battalion for various contributions — Jean Marc LeFranc, Robert Richardson, Joel “Casey” Starke, Jason Steere, Scott Wagner and Lorri Wright.