An unsuccessful April 15 Taliban attack on Missouri National Guardsmen at a forward operating base in Afghanistan has resulted in numerous medals and awards for members of the Guard's Agribusiness Development Team.
About 55 soldiers and airmen make up Missouri Agribusiness Development Team VI, which arrived in Afghanistan in March. For several years, Missouri Agribusiness Teams have been helping Afghan farmers in the Nangarhar Province create a sustainable agriculture program.
In the April 15 attack on Forward Operating Base Finley Shields, Taliban insurgents used a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device to breach a wall of the compound. Taliban fighters then entered the compound through the breach and a fire-fight with Afghan Army forces and Missouri National Guardsmen ensued.
In successfully repelling the attack, one Afghan Soldier was killed and several Missouri Guardsmen were wounded.
"I saw young Missouri soldiers run straight into enemy fire to repel this attack," said Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Schicker, of St. Louis, one of the Guardsmen wounded in the incident. "It was the bravest thing I have ever seen in my life."
In a letter to his father, William, Schicker described the coordinated attack.
"The enemy first tried to move down the west wall when they were met by Missouri Guardsmen who repelled the attack," Schicker wrote. "Next they tried to move east along the southern wall where they encountered more Missouri Guardsmen and a fierce battle took place. Missouri Guardsmen held until reinforcements arrived."
Lt. Col. Andre L. Edison, of Florissant, commander of the ADT task force police advisory team, said valuable pre-mobilization training at Camp Clark, Mo. paid off during the battle.
"We trained for months for this mission not only to be proficient, but if necessary, to protect ourselves," Edison said. "Our job is not to go after the insurgents but to improve the agribusiness capacity of the populace. As Missouri Guardsmen we were tested, but tremendous training prepared us and I could be no prouder of the team."
In the aftermath of the attack, 23 Missouri National Guardsmen were awarded the Army Combat Action Badge, three were awarded the Army Combat Infantry Badge, two received the Army Combat Medical Badge, five received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and 15 were awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in combat. In addition, two Guardsmen, Senior Airman Brandon Bumbales, of St. Louis, and Master Sgt. Kevin L. Craig, of Mokane, have been recommended for the Bronze Star with Valor.
Below is a list of Missouri National Guardsmen who received awards as a result of the attack. Each name is followed by the individual's city of residence and the awards they received.