Crouched in the kill zone with a rifle in one hand and a grenade launcher in the other, Sgt. 1st Class Richard “Rich” Harris prepared to fight to the death to protect his fallen comrade.

On Sept. 13, 2011, Harris, a weapons sergeant with a Special Operational Detachment-Alpha (ODA) assigned to 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), embodied the spirit of the Army’s warrior ethos after his ODA team was ambushed by an overwhelming enemy force while conducting a mission in the Wardak Province, Afghanistan.

Harris’ team sergeant, Master Sgt. Danial “Slim” Adams, was killed in action during the initial moments of the ambush, and Harris spent the rest of the battle aggressively attacking the ambushing insurgents while guarding the body of his team sergeant at significant risk to his own life.

Nearly five years later, Harris’ heroic actions from that day were formally recognized when he was presented the Silver Star medal, the nation’s third highest award for valor, June 3, 2016.

“It does bring a little bit of closure,” said Harris, who was able to reconnect with some of the men he fought with on that long-ago day, some of which he had not seen in years.

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