THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
AUTHORIZED BY CONGRESS
THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE CROSS
STAFF SERGEANT JEFFERY M. DAWSON, UNITED STATES ARMY
EXTRAORDINARY HEROISM IN ACTION
CITATION: The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Staff Sergeant Jeffery M. Dawson, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with the 28th Ordnance Company (Airborne) from 5 October 2013 to 6 October 2013 during combat operations against an armed enemy of the United States, as an Explosives Ordnance Technician for a Joint Task Force in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Sergeant Dawson assaulted a remote compound occupied by enemy insurgents. During the assault, the enemy triggered multiple suicide explosive devices and improvised explosive devices wounding several personnel. Fully knowing the extreme and imminent danger to himself, Sergeant Dawson repeatedly moved throughout an improvised explosive device belt despite being wounded by two separate detonations to retrieve wounded and fallen teammates. Sergeant Dawson’s distinctive accomplishments are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, this Command, and the United States Army.
NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD: Sergeant Jeffery M. Dawson, United States Army distinguished himself by exceptionally heroic service on 5 and 6 October 2013 as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During the period of darkness 5 October 2013, Sergeant Dawson was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Technician in an assault force on an objective. The high value target was a known Taliban attack network leader operating in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Intelligence indicated that the HVT was the leader of an attack cell planning on conducting a high profile attack in Kandahar City with the aims of killing innocent civilians and undermining GIRoA authority. Sergeant Dawson was a member of a combined strike force that planned an operation to kill or capture the HVT. The assault force planned to land on two separate named areas of interest (NAI), NAI 1 and NAI 2. The assault force departed from Kandahar Airfield. Upon infiltration of NAI 1, the assault force moved to establish isolation of the targeted compound where the HVT was believed to be located. As the helicopters entered audible range, a squirter departed from the targeted compound and fled on foot to the northwest. Observing a sparkle provided by an airborne asset, Sergeant Dawson joined the squirter interdiction team in pursuit of the fleeing individual. Approximately 300 meters to the northwest, the squirter came to a halt and concealed himself in vegetation within a small wadi. Given the ambiguous nature of the tactical situation, the squirter interdiction element leader separated the maneuver force into an overwatch element and assault element. Sergeant Dawson positioned himself with the lead member of the assault element despite the nebulous situation on the ground. After the inhabitants of the target compound moved to exit, multiple devices to include a suicide vest and pressure plate initiated improvised explosive devices (PPIED) detonated at the eastern gate of the structure (Detonations #1-3). These explosions resulted in at least eight friendly casualties around the eastern gate of the compound and two enemy killed in action, to include the female who was wearing and detonated the suicide vest. Immediately following the detonations at the target compound, the order was given to release the multi-purpose canine, Jani, in order to assist with locating the squirter. Shortly after the release of the multi-purpose canine, the squirter detonated a suicide vest. Instantly killing both the squirter and the multi-purpose canine (Detonation #4). Despite sustaining significant blast effects and fragmentation wounds to his leg, Sergeant Dawson remained in position and began to return fire on what was initially perceived as a near ambush. After regaining situational awareness of the existing threat on the ground, Sergeant Dawson made the critical recommendation not to assault through the area due to a potential IED threat. Following withdrawal from the immediate area of the squirter’s suicide vest detonation, Pararescue Jumper SrA Windle evaluated Sergeant Dawson’s wounds at which time he located fragmentation strikes to his inner thigh. Following consolidation of the squirter interdiction element and recovery of the multi-purpose canine remains, Sergeant Dawson with complete disregard of his own wounds, proceeded to clear the interdiction team back to the target compound to assist with multiple casualties which were now being reported as a result of detonations #1-3. At the target compound the first casualty evacuation helicopter arrived and began to load casualties. As the brown out began to spread, a series of detonations occurred in the vicinity of a PPIED belt adjacent to the target compound. As 1LT Moreno was repositioning to render aid to a fellow teammate, she triggered a PPIED, killing her instantly (Detonation #5). Shortly after this detonation, Sergeant Hawkins and Specialist Patterson moved towards a fellow friendly wounded in action being treated by the platoon medic, Specialist Anderson. Specialist Patterson stepped on a PPIED, stumbled, and triggered another PPIED seconds later. Specialist Patterson and Sergeant Hawkins were mortally wounded by these detonations (Detonation #6 and #7). Sergeant Peters was returning from assisting with the casualty evacuation at the helicopter landing zone when he triggered two PPIEDs and was critically wounded (Detonations #8 and #9). At this point in time, Sergeant Dawson had been exposed to one IED detonation at close range and was aware of the eight additional detonations that had impacted the strike force. At this critical juncture the assault force began to realize they were in the midst of a complex defensive PPIED belt. The quick reaction force was then requested to assist with casualty evacuation and transport to higher care. Immediately upon arriving to the vicinity of the target compound, Sergeant Dawson established a centralized staging area and rapidly calculated an assessment of the situation. In an effort to assist with casualty evacuation, Sergeant Dawson began clearing a thirty foot lane through the IED-laden area to Sergeant Peters to allow SrA Windle to provide aid. With SrA Windle treating Sergeant Peters, Sergeant Dawson returned to the casualty collection point and cleared a ten foot path through the IED belt to PFC Pinnick and an additional twenty feet to Specialist Patterson. Acting alone and refusing to leave a fallen comrade, Sergeant Dawson recovered Specialist Patterson’s remains and returned them to the casualty collection point. From the casualty collection point, Sergeant Dawson then started clearing a route to 1LT Moreno with his metal detector. After approximately twenty five feet, Sergeant Dawson located an IED (IED #1), uncovered wires, marked, and informed the assault force of the threat. Immediately following the discovery of IED #1, Sergeant Dawson adjusted his clearance route and while moving, located another IED (IED #2.) After marking IED #2 and informing the assault force, Sergeant Dawson, determined to recover 1LT Moreno, again adjusted his movement and located a third IED (IED #3.) Following the marking of IED #3 and the notification of what remained of the assault force, Sergeant Dawson made the recommendation of an additional freeze call due to the existence of numerous active PPIEDs. The IEDs were identified by wires he uncovered with a barely visible trail to a patch of disturbed earth, assessed to be a main charge with a low metallic content pressure plate on top of it. This scenario, one of the most complex in explosive detection, required Sergeant Dawson to repeatedly expose himself to active PPIEDs under limited visibility conditions. His markings of safe paths ensured efficient movement across the objective and limited additional casualties, as members of the assault force continued to maneuver in an effort to render aid. Sergeant Dawson informed Staff Sergeant Torres, the senior Non-Commissioned Officer on the ground, of what he had located. Observing the need for a clear route to the casualty evacuation HLZ, Sergeant Dawson began clearing a path towards the landing zone with his metal detector utilizing chemical lights, given the number of personnel who had sustained damage to night vision optics. As Sergeant Dawson was returning to the casualty collection point, a fellow teammate, Corporal Hargis, who was transiting the area to assist in treatment of a fellow strike force member triggered a PPIED (detonation #10), amputating both of his legs. Sergeant Dawson, who was less than five feet from the detonation, sustained significant secondary fragmentation impacts and a ruptured ear drum due to his close proximity. Completely disregarding his own wounds, Sergeant Dawson immediately moved to assist the platoon medic treating Corporal Hargis. As Sergeant Dawson was rendering aid, the tourniquet he was utilizing broke; he adjusted by applying pressure to the femoral arteries as SrA Windle arrived to assist Specialist Anderson with stopping blood loss. With the medical situation of Corporal Hargis stabilized, Sergeant Dawson began clearing a more direct route to the casualty collection point locating additional wires as he cleared. At this point, realizing the increasing severity of the PPIED threat, Sergeant Dawson recommended a strict freeze call to Staff Sergeant Torres and all additional movement by strike force members ceased. To ensure the safety of the assault force, the quick reaction force, with additional EOD technicians, was inserted. Sergeant Dawson informed the recently-arrived EOD technicians of the tactical situation on the ground and conducted a complete transfer of information and control to Sergeant First Class Tedesco. As the three EOD technicians developed a plan to clear the rest of the assault force to the exfiltration HLZ, Staff Sergeant Torres became aware of the severity of Sergeant Dawson’s wounds. Staff Sergeant Torres ordered Sergeant Dawson, who had now sustained two separate IED detonations, to prepare himself for extraction on the next casualty evacuation lift. Utilizing the route that Sergeant First Class Tedesco and Specialist Crockett had cleared from the HLZ, Sergeant Dawson moved without assistance, and was extracted from the objective. Sergeant Dawson’s heroic actions are a credit to the training and expertise of all 28th EOD technicians. Despite being wounded by two separate IED detonations, Sergeant Dawson endured the most horrific circumstances while consistently pursuing the preservation of life. Sergeant Dawson remained on the objective for over two hours traversing an ambiguous and chaotic objective where he located three confirmed PPIEDs and an additional six suspected devices. His personal recovery of the remains of Specialist Patterson embody one of the most profound tenants of the Ranger Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy.” With repeated disregard for personal safety Sergeant Dawson consistently exposed himself at the lead of maneuvering elements to ensure safe passage for all teammates around the objective area. His expedient treatment directly contributed to saving the life of Corporal Hargis, and his focus on retrieving teammates from stranded positions ultimately saved theirs. His actions contributed to the disruption of a major attack in Kandahar City that would have resulted in the deaths of unknown multitudes of innocent civilians. Sergeant Jeffery M. Dawson’s bravery, courage, and dedication to the recovery of his teammates were exemplary. He is most deserving of the special recognition afforded by the awarding of the Silver Star Medal. Through his distinctive accomplishments, Sergeant Dawson’s actions and leadership reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.