Fort Lewis soldier awarded Silver Star

A soldier assigned to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team) during its 15 months in Iraq will receive the Silver Star, the third-highest military award for combat valor.

Maj. Brent Clemmer, who has lived in Steilacoom, will receive the decoration this afternoon during a brief ceremony at the Army post.

“I’m very humbled,” he said Wednesday. “Most soldiers don’t think what we do is in any way special. We’re doing our jobs.”

Clemmer added that the award is a reflection of the performance of the nearly 170 soldiers in his company.

Clemmer received the award for his actions Jan. 28, when he commanded Charger Company of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment.

The major was notified that a helicopter had been shot down near Najaf, south of Baghdad, and coalition forces responding were receiving significant gun and mortar fire, according to the award’s citation.

After moving his company about 60 miles, he linked up with a Special Forces team that had suffered casualties and established a perimeter between the wreckage and insurgents. He then directed the recovery of the wreckage and the bodies of the two pilots who died in the crash.

“I’m really proud we didn’t let anything happen to those guys,” Clemmer said.

According to the award’s citation:

During the night, Clemmer directed his unit to repel several enemy counterattacks as the fighters were based in a nearby fortified town surrounded by a deep trench. Air Force gunships and Army attack helicopters assaulted the town.

At daybreak, Clemmer again moved his company to support a sister company’s ground assault of the town. Wounded women and children emerging from the town signaled the insurgents’ surrender.

The imminent assault transformed into a humanitarian mission, Clemmer said.

He accepted the surrender of several hundred people, insurgents and civilians. He established a landing zone for medical evaluation and the delivery of medical supplies, water and other supplies.

The actions of Clemmer and his soldiers resulted in about 250 insurgents being killed, 81 being wounded and more than 400 being captured. They recovered stockpiles of enemy ammunition, medical supplies, food and hundreds of weapons.

Clemmer was one of five honorary grand marshals during the annual Military Family Support March in Lacey in September. He was promoted to major in February and transferred to a job in brigade headquarters.

Clemmer, who has deployed to Afghanistan and twice served in Iraq, is on leave. He, his wife, Joelle, and their son, Julian, will leave Saturday for Monterey, Calif., where Clemmer will attend the Naval Postgraduate School for 18 months.

Christian Hill covers the city of Lacey and military for The Olympian. He can be reached at 360-754-5427 or chill@theolympian.com.