Valor Earns Navy Chief Silver Star

By Michael Gehlken
|  Wednesday, Feb 16, 2011  |  Updated 5:15 PM PDT
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Valor Earns Navy Chief Silver Star

Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus, congratulates Chief Petty Officer Gerardo Sosa, explosive ordinance disposal technician, after presenting him with the Silver Star medal at Naval Special Warfare Group 1. Sosa was awarded the medal for clearing 200 yards of a suspected mine field by hand during combat operations in Afghanistan while deployed with SEAL Team 7.

A Southern California Navy technician has been presented with a Silver Star Medal, a prestigious honor earned after he crawled through and cleared an Afghanistan minefield at dark to help a wounded fellow sailor.

On Sept. 7, 2009, Chief Petty Officer Gerardo Sosa, 29 of Garden Grove, assisted a Navy SEAL team leader who was badly wounded after stepping on an improvised explosive device.

The pressure-sensitive IED blew off the man's legs, and that is when Sosa took charge.

The explosive ordinance disposal chief tied a tourniquet around the SEAL's legs in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He then led team members 200 yards out of the minefield, deactivating two landmines in the team's wake.

The group was able to exit in time to save the injured man's life.

Ray Mabus, secretary of the Navy, presented Sosa and two other men with Silver Stars last Friday.

"The awards that I presented today recognize uncommon heroism and uncommon valor," Mabus said. "It shows the skill level, the dedication and the patriotism, and its one of the best things I get to do - to recognize the people for what they do for us."

Sosa called receiving the award from Mabus "an honor" and said it was "a reflection of all the hard work everybody in our community has accomplished."

The Silver Star is the third-prestigious awards, surpassed only by the Navy Cross and Medal of Honor.

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