What This Soldier Did Was So Impressive His Silver Star Was Upgraded To A Service Cross

Specialist Warfle

Photo: Teddy Wade via Dvidshub

Specialist Craig Warfle was in a sticky situation.A CH-46 helicopter had flown through a hail of bullets and dropped off Ranger Element 1, Warfle’s team, in the heat of a highly kinetic gunfight with the Taliban. Warfle’s team was supposed to suppress the enemy, allowing for Element 2 to assault their position. He hadn’t even stepped off the ramp of the helicopter though when plans started falling apart.

Warfle exited the bird and into a wall of heavy, effective, accurate fire. He fell to the ground immediately, alternating fire and low crawling toward the enemy position. Meanwhile both Elements 1 and 2 found themselves pinned down and out of position.

On his own initiative, Warfle and another Ranger pretty much stood up and rushed toward the gunfire. The only cover they had was the suppressive fire they provided on their own.

When they were within 25 meters of an entrenched enemy machine gun nest, they were both hit with a volley of rounds. The other Ranger was hit badly, while Warfle sustained injuries to his shoulder and was knocked to the ground. Once recovered, he immediately positioned himself between his downed buddy and the enemy.

Without treating his own injuries, he continued firing on the enemy, providing the cover needed for the medic to cross open ground and treat the other injured Ranger.

Still refusing medical treatment, he continued engaging the enemy while a Medevac bird arrived to take the casualty back to base. Only then did he throw a tourniquet on his arm and continue assaulting the enemy.

Both Elements 1 and 2 were able to regroup, and break contact from the enemy, but Warfle remained until the very last second, only breaking contact once their helicopter had arrived.

It turns out Warfle was essentially corralling the enemy into a group, while other Rangers called in the group’s coordinates. Eventually Warfle broke contact himself and boarded a flight out of the fight, while ordnance dropped and obliterated at least 16 enemy combatants and two Taliban provincial commanders.

From the citation:

Specialist Warfle, with total disregard for his own personal safety, maneuvered on a fortified enemy machine gun position through effective enemy fire.  Even after being wounded, Specialist Warfle continued to suppress the enemy with high volumes of effective fire in order to allow his team members to pull his unconscious element leader to safety.  Specialist Warfle refused to be medically evacuated from the fight and his actions allowed the Platoon to hastily withdraw and defeat the enemy utilising air assets. 

For his actions, Warfle was at first put in for a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for valor. But, strangely enough, the award came back as a Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s second highest award for valor (behind the Medal of honour).

The citation indicates that Warfle fired 150 rounds during the engagement, which is almost all the rounds that American forces are minimally required to carry ‘outside the wire.’

It is highly unusual for awards of any nature, especially valor, to be ‘bumped up.’ Actually, it’s more likely (and seems almost standard practice) for awards to be bumped down, or just plain old forgotten.

The website SOFREP points out that Warfle is the first Ranger to be awarded the cross for actions in Post 9/11 conflicts.

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