FORT KNOX, Ky. — Army Staff Sgt. Chad Clark, a 2000 graduate from John Glenn High School, received the Bronze Service Medal with Valor during a ceremony on March 27 for his heroic actions on June 27, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan.
Clark is assigned to the 412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Columbus.
Clark and his fellow Soldiers from Alpha Company, 412th, deployed to Afghanistan from December, 2009, through October, 2010.
“Our civil affairs team started what was planned as a 24-hour mission into the Ghaki Valley,” said Clark. “The operation lasted three days because of enemy attacks.”
The team was assigned to Second Platoon as part of Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
Ghaki Valley is in Kubar Province in Northeast Afghanistan, about 100 miles east of Kabul. The valley goes straight to Pakistan.
According to Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pelosi, a civil affairs NCO in Alpha Company, the team accompanied an infantry platoon to clear out Anti-Afghan Forces.
The Anti-Afghan Forces are enemy combatants, usually members of the Taliban.
“We expected a lot of resistance,” said Pelosi. “The Ghaki Valley was full of insurgents.”
“The Taliban and AAF had a stronghold there,” added Clark. “The villagers had no choice under the Taliban. We knew we had to clear the threat before we could go into the village to meet with the elders to conduct our civil affairs mission.
“We started out about 1 a.m. on that day. It was pitch black, clear, 75 degrees Fahrenheit,” recalled Clark.
Daytime temperatures reach about 110 degrees in the summer months in that part of Afghanistan.
“Our gear was heavy,” said Clark. “CA teams carry 9 mm pistols and M4 rifles with 240 rounds, and two grenades. With all the protective gear, ammunition, water and equipment, we carry an extra 75 pounds.”
According to 1st Lt. Doug Jones, the platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, intelligence indicated about 150 Taliban fighters were moving equipment and weapons though the valley.
According to Pelosi, soon after arriving in the valley, Clark identified potential ambush points. Clark had his team and interpreter dismount from their vehicle and move along Ghaki Road.
Clark’s efforts to locate fighting positions prepared his team for what would happen soon.
While moving through the village of Sangam, 2nd Platoon came under heavy fire.
Clark utilized his interpreter to aid in controlling the embedded Afghan National Army and Afghan Border Patrol, who accompanied 2nd Platoon.
After 2nd Platoon established a fighting position in a ditch, Clark identified an Anti-Afghan Forces fighting position and oriented his ANA soldiers who “eliminated the threat with two rocket-propelled grenade rounds,” wrote Jones in Clark’s award citation.
“Clark and his team continued to push east through the valley,” the award stated.
Second Platoon was attacked again. Immediately, Clark established a fighting position and used suppressive fire to allow trapped soldiers to move back to cover.
Second Platoon then moved onward to continue its mission.
A small contingent of 2nd Platoon soldiers moved in to clear a building near a compound. A guided bomb blast injured several 2nd Platoon soldiers. Clark then led a group to aid the injured soldiers.
Clark assisted the team in carrying injured soldiers down four terraces to the MEDEVAC area.
Pelosi provided overwatch to ensure safe transport of the injured.
“I provided cover while he carried wounded soldiers down the terraces,” said Pelosi. “Afghanistan is very mountainous. The only landing area a MEDEVAC helicopter could land was at the bottom of the terraces in an open valley.”
Jones stated, after consolidating the remainder of 2nd Platoon, Clark noticed two additional soldiers were showing signs injuries from the GBU blast.
Clark immediately assembled a team to move the soldiers to the landing zone. As soon as the helicopter lifted off, Clark’s team was attacked by Anti-Afghan forces.
Small arms rounds poured on the team, and an RPG round landed a few feet from Clark.
Clark was not injured seriously. He then maneuvered with the remainder of the team back to the compound.
The mission ended after three days.
Jones stated, the mission was a great success. The result was more than 100 Anti-Afghan Forces were killed and the enemy network was defeated in the province.
Since the threat was cleared, the civil affairs teams were able to meet with village elders to assess the community’s primary needs and help repair the infrastructure.
“He stepped up to lead troops in battle,” Pelosi said. “He did not hesitate. He took charge of infantry soldiers in 2nd Platoon and friendly forces in the ANA and led troops in battle. He led the efforts to get our wounded soldiers to the MEDEVAC area, too.”
The citation read “Clark risked his life in the face of enemy fire. He performed above and beyond the call of duty to ensure mission success.”