U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Al R. Charlie was awarded the Bronze Star for his tactical knowledge and quick reactions when his convoy came under direct fire from anti-Afghan forces. Charlie was maintenance section senior wheel mechanic of the Special Operations Task Force during Operation Enduring Freedom from January 26, 2009 until his return home in July 2009.
Charlie’s father, Wilfred Charlie, stated in an e-mail that he was proud of his son’s accomplishments and that he wanted to share this information with members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
According to his father, Charlie joined the U.S. Army in 2001, attending boot camp at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He continued with his training and went to Airborne School; after that he served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
“After returning from Iraq,” said Wilfred Charlie, “Al went to Ranger School. He passed all three phases on the first attempt, which is rare; usually soldiers fail one or more of the phases and have to repeat them.”
In 2007 Charlie attended the Army Sapper Leader Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, which trains selected combat engineer unit leaders in leadership skills, combat engineer and infantry battle drills, and the specialized engineer and infantry techniques required to perform as members of a Sapper Battalion. It is also designed to build cohesion and esprit de corps by training soldiers in troop-leading procedures, demolitions, mountaineering operations, aerial operations, airborne operations, foreign weapons, land navigation, waterborne operations and contingency threat. Charlie was the honor graduate in his class, receiving a plaque and the class flag.
Charlie returned to Iraq in 2008 and went to Afghanistan in January 2009, returning last July. He is deploying back to Afghanistan this month. He is currently attached to a Special Forces group out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Charlie plans to continue his military service for 20 years or more.
The Bronze Star is a medal awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the Army, distinguishes himself or herself by bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. When awarded for bravery, it is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces.