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Army Rangers Awarded Combat Medals

January 17, 2003

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) _ The Army awarded 17 Rangers the Silver Star or Bronze Star combat medals for valor Thursday for their actions in the battle of Takur Ghar in Afghanistan last March.

About 150 soldiers of the elite 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment based at Hunter Army Airfield received other medals including the Bronze Star for outstanding service or Army commendation medals.

Capt. Nate Self, who received a Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star, said he doesn’t feel like a war hero.

``I feel like all my soldiers deserve the medals they got. But when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see that,″ said Self, 26, who along with Air Force Staff Sgt. Kevin Vance received the Purple Heart for suffering wounds in combat.

Self’s platoon was sent to the snow-covered mountain Takur Ghar on March 4 to rescue a team of Navy SEALS whose helicopter crash-landed near the peak. The resulting firefight lasted 17 hours and seven Americans were killed in the deadliest battle of the war in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Eric Stebner, awarded the Silver Star, helped carry the body of one of his best friends, Sgt. Bradley Crose, one of three Rangers killed in the battle.

``It would have been nicer to receive a lesser award and come back with everybody we left with,″ said Stebner, 27.

The Silver Star, which was awarded to nine of the Rangers, is the third-highest medal Army soldiers can receive in combat, ranking just below the Distinguished Service Medal and the Medal of Honor.

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