SOF Task Force 102 earns nearly 50 combat awards in a single deployment

Special Operations Task Force 102 — composed of soldiers with the 10th Group, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 9th Psychological Operations Battalion and 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) — earned 12 Purple Hearts, 15 Army Commendations medals with Valor devices, seven Bronze Star medals with Valor devices, and five Silver Star medals

Green Berets of 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) received awards for combat action in Afghanistan, during a valor award ceremony on Fort Carson, Colorado, Sept. 26, 2019. (Photo: U.S. Army/Cole Erickson)

Special Operations Task Force 102 earned 12 Purple Hearts, 15 Army Commendations medals with Valor devices, seven Bronze Star medals with Valor devices, and five Silver Star medals. Task Force 102 was composed of operators with the 10th Group, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 9th Psychological Operations Battalion and 71st Ordnance Group (Explosive Ordnance Disposal).

According to the official statement, members of a special operations task force distinguished themselves with “exceptional heroism, valor and dedication” on a recent six-month deployment to Afghanistan.

“We come together as family and unit to honor the heroism and sacrifice of our soldiers and their families,” Lt. Col. Justin Hufnagel, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) commander, said in a statement. “For 170 days of a blistering series of operations, we focused on disrupting the enemy in their strongholds.”

Four soldiers received awards posthumously, with their families accepting them on their behalf: Sgt. 1st Class Will Lindsay and Sgt. Joseph Collette, who were both killed in March; Master Sgt. Michael Riley, killed in June by small arms fire; and Sgt. 1st Class Elliott Robbins, killed in a non-combat incident in June.

U.S. Army Special Operations Command’s Lt. Gen. Francis M. Beaudette, who presented the 48 awards, said he was “incredibly humbled” to be in their presence.

“These Green Beret heroes … embody all the values and attributes we hold dear in the ARSOF community,” Beaudette was quoted as saying at the event.

It’s been a deadly year for the Special Forces community — every active-duty Special Forces Group has lost a soldier in Afghanistan or Syria this year. The 10th Group’s 2nd Battalion alone had four deaths total — three combat-related, and one noncombat, making it the unit that has suffered the heaviest losses this year.

The waging war in Afghanistan is still far away from the end, but our soldiers are defending our freedom out there.