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Old 12-21-2006, 06:43   #1
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7th SFG (A) Soldier named “USASOC Medic of the Year”


7th SFG (A) Soldier named “USASOC Medic of the Year”
By Staff Sgt. Cain S. Claxton
7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Public Affairs

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (USASOC News Service, Dec. 18, 2006) - A Fort Bragg Special Forces Soldier was recognized as the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Medic of the Year at the Special Operations Medical Conference in Tampa Bay, Fla., Dec. 1.

Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor, a medic assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), received the honor for his battlefield performance on June 24.

According to a memorandum recommending O’Connor for the award, the 7th Group medic was leading a Quick Reaction Force to link up with a pair of “wounded and isolated Soldiers … pinned down by enemy fire.”

O’Connor repeatedly exposed himself to heavy fire, even low-crawling 80 meters over an open field to reach the wounded Soldiers. He did it without body armor, a decision O’Connor made in order to keep as low to the ground as possible, carrying as many medical supplies as possible.

“You don’t leave people out there, end of story,” O’Connor said.

“With rounds coming within inches,” O’Connor navigated the open field, climbed over a wall and picked his way through vineyard rows undetected by an enemy element moving ahead of him, according to the report.

O’Connor reached the hemmed-in Soldiers and began treating their wounds. Several times he alternated between using medical supplies to using his weapon, as Taliban fighters threatened to overrun their position.

“The Taliban … had gotten close enough to verbally taunt them with threats of capture,” stated the memorandum. “The Taliban fought relentlessly and continued to reinforce the element, attempting to kill or capture the small group of Coalition fighters.”

The small group held off the Taliban advance long enough to evacuate the casualties to better cover, where O’Connor continued to treat them.

“That was a tough day,” O’Connor said. “We were in a fight.”

Cpt. Sheffield Ford, who was O’Connor’s team leader in Afghanistan, wrote the memorandum detailing his senior medic’s life-saving efforts during the 17½-hour gun battle.

“There are so many words to describe it,” Ford said of O’Connor’s behavior in the firefight. “He was going to do anything and everything he could do to save them. He’s a true hero.”

O’Connor, a 24-year veteran of Special Forces, said he was uneasy about receiving any individual honor for his actions that day, which ultimately saved the life of one of his team members.

“Anyone would have done the same thing in my position,” O’Connor said. “It was a team effort.”

That “team” included Master Sgt. Thomas Maholic, O’Connor’s team sergeant, and Staff Sgt. Joseph F. Fuerst III, a Florida National Guard infantryman attached to the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha to train the Afghan army. Both were killed in the firefight.

As a tribute to Maholic, and on his behalf, O’Connor accepted the award. “Thom was a medic, too,” he said about Maholic’s occupational specialty before becoming team sergeant. “He held the back door open for all of us. He was killed holding the back door open.”

The “door,” a lane running between fields and mud compounds, was the team’s only way back to their patrol base, and Maholic was killed defending it.

Retired Col. Al Moloff, SOMA president and Master Sgt. Samuel Rodriguez, Army Special Operations Command senior enlisted medic, presented the award to O’Connor who along with his wife, Margaret, escorted Maholic’s widow, Wendy, to the SOMA conference.

“He wanted to do it to keep sergeant Maholic’s memory alive. That’s a credit to him, the type of person he is,” Moloff and Rodriguez wrote.

The award and the manner in which he accepted it “speaks very well for his character,” said Sergeant Maj. William Zaiser, a close friend of O’Connor and comrade in 7th Group.

“His views on military service are very heartfelt,” Zaiser said. “He’s probably the most patriotic man I’ve ever met. And he was the finest medic of any ODA that I had ever been on, and not just because of his medical skills.”

“The little things he did had a huge impact (on the team). Almost every free minute he had, he would spend trying to improve the quality of life of the team members,” Zaiser said. “(O’Connor) was absolutely tireless in his efforts to not only be the best medic, but ODA team member.”

The award recognizes Army special operations medics “willing to do anything to save their comrades, their friends,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t have to be an act of heroism. Guys have also earned the award for cumulative service.”

“The reason why we do this is to pay tribute to the dedication and sacrifices that our guys are making for each other. (O’Connor) is an example of that.”

“I think given the same circumstance, we all would do what we had to do. I should say, I hope we all would.”

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Old 12-21-2006, 06:44   #2
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Master Sgt. Brendan O’Connor, a medic assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was recognized as the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Medic of the Year at the Special Operations Medical Conference in Tampa Bay, Fla., Dec. 1.
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Old 12-21-2006, 07:17   #3
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Outstanding Job Brother Medic! DOL. Primum non Nocere as long as they're not shooting at you, if they are then give em Hell.
In the business of war, there is no invariable stategic advantage (shih) which can be relied upon at all times.
Sun-Tzu, "The Art of Warfare"

Hearing, I forget. Seeing, I remember. Writing (doing), I understand. Chinese Proverb

Too many people are looking for a magic bullet. As always, shot placement is the key. ~TR
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Old 12-21-2006, 08:36   #4
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Well done.
Somewhere a True Believer is training to kill you. He is training with minimal food or water, in austere conditions, training day and night. The only thing clean on him is his weapon and he made his web gear. He doesn't worry about what workout to do - his ruck weighs what it weighs, his runs end when the enemy stops chasing him. This True Believer is not concerned about 'how hard it is;' he knows either he wins or dies. He doesn't go home at 17:00, he is home.
He knows only The Cause.

Still want to quit?
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Old 12-21-2006, 09:29   #5
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Proud to say I was there at the ceremony and had the opportunity to congratulate him personally.

Very few dry eyes in the house when the widow stood up.

Good job, MSG O'Connor.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - President Theodore Roosevelt, 1910

De Oppresso Liber 01/20/2025
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Old 12-21-2006, 10:14   #6
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Bein Hecho. Glad to know we've got guys like him on our side.
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Old 12-21-2006, 13:54   #7
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I have had the priviledge to know and work along side these magnificent men. They represent a large number of like-minded professionals in our small community. They have done a tremendous job.
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Old 12-21-2006, 19:13   #8
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The best part: he's genuine - 24/7/365, that's just the way he is. It's great seeing guys like this get recognized. On the other hand; my condolences to him, the families, and his team for the price they paid that day. Peregrino
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Old 12-26-2006, 18:12   #9
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A Great Honor for a Great Soldier

Brendan O'Connor and his family are the greatest human beings alive. I had the great honor of serving with this outhstanding soldier/medic while a member of ODA 766. I will never forget how he improved the quality of life for our team while serving in very austere environments in South America. He was not only the best medic I ever served with but also the best engineer (not school trained.... just did the job). His ability to sit and look at a problem... figure it out... and then execute a fix is unbelievable. I sincerely hope that every one who visits this site gets a chance to meet this great warrior and his outstanding family.

For once an award of this magnitude is given to a man deserving of it. I congratulate you Brendan.

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Old 12-27-2006, 03:14   #10
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Well Deserved....where is the press for something such as this...

I am saddened to know that Tom Maholic was killed, we served together, he was a good bubba

Primum non Nocere
"I have hung out in dangerous places a lot over the years, from combat zones to biker bars, and it is the weak, the unaware, or those looking for it, that usually find trouble.

Ain't no one getting out of this world alive. All you can do is try to have some choice in the way you go. Prepare yourself (and your affairs), and when your number is up, die on your feet fighting rather than on your knees. And make the SOBs pay dearly."
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Old 08-25-2008, 15:12   #11
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I had the privilage of meeting him earlier this year. Really nice guy, pretty typical of the sort my dad has introduced me to. I had no idea at the time that he had done this. Simply amazing that a man can do something like that and not even think it to be out of the ordinary.
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Old 12-14-2010, 13:55   #12
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Just wanted to say I have met and broken Bread with this great warrior and his Family. Thanks for all you do.
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