Valor, Pain and Tears

Valor, Pain and Tears

Saturday, December 1, 2001


Spc. April Gallop, wounded in the Pentagon attack, and her son, Elisha. Elisha was visiting his mother’s office when the plane struck. He was blown out of his stroller and ended up on top of a pile of debris, unhurt except for dust in his eyes.

“Of the day that all of this began—Tuesday, September 11—I have many memories,” SMA Jack L. Tilley told the soldiers, Army civilian employees and Army contractors who were seated in two rows inside Conmy Hall at Fort Myer, Va. “But few are as strong as what I saw in the hallways and on the grounds of the Pentagon in the minutes and hours following the attack.”

The soldiers and civilians were there to be honored for their actions done and wounds incurred when an airliner slammed into the west side of the Pentagon.

“Looking back on it,” SMA Tilley continued, “I saw exactly what I should have seen: Americans coming to the aid of their fallen comrades. This you did without hesitation and with little regard for your own safety and well-being. In some cases lives were put at risk as many of you plunged into uncertainty and confusion to bring others to safety. … You led others away from the building and administered what first aid you could. You guided police and fire units into the area and assisted them in any way possible. You offered prayers and comfort to the wounded and put comforting arms around some who were in shock from the ordeal,” he added.

“Not only did you serve your comrades well that day, you provided all of us with examples of honor and courage that will inspire us in the coming years and in the battles that may await us in our war on terrorism,” SMA Tilley said.

With that, SMA Tilley assisted Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White as he presented five different types of awards to the heroes of the Pentagon attack: the Soldier’s Medal, the Army’s highest peacetime award for military personnel; the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service, awarded to Army civilian employees for exhibiting great courage and voluntary risk of their lives; the Decoration for Distinguished Civilian Service, awarded to contractors as the Army’s highest public service award; the Purple Heart for military personnel wounded in the attack; and the Defense of Freedom Medal, the civilian equivalent.

More that 70 soldiers and civilians were honored at the ceremony, 32 of them for exceptional valor. The Soldier’s Medal was awarded to 28 soldiers and the Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service to four Army civilians for their actions following the crash.

“In one horrible moment, they were united by a common bond of shared humanity and the simple belief that the life of another person is more important than their own,” Secretary White said.

SSgt. Christopher Braman, who received a Soldier’s Medal and Purple Heart, was accompanied by his wife and daughters. SSgt. Braman is a cook in the Secretary of the Army’s executive dining facility. On the morning of the attack, his wife phoned him about the World Trade Center attacks, and he had just hung up from the conversation and entered the hallway “when we took the initial shake and smoke started coming through the hallway.”

As he ran toward the source, the first victim he encountered was a lady staggering away with a baby in her arms. “I grabbed the baby and realized the back of the baby’s head was charred, so I ran to look for medical help,” he recalled. He handed off the child to someone outside and returned to the burning area with Lt. Col. Paul Anderson, who SSgt. Braman said uttered a prayer before the two entered. “He said ‘Dear Lord, give me the strength,’ and we went in.”

“We just kept shuttling out as many people as we could. We found a lady kneeling on the floor, clapping—just clapping her hands—because she couldn’t breathe and she couldn’t do anything else,” he recalled. “I took in a lot of smoke and my face was flash burned. My skin peeled away like paint,” he said. “I smeared my face with antibiotic cream and continued.”

“Steel was bent and cement walls were collapsing. The smell was horrendous. After a while, water was ankle deep on the floors.” SSgt. Braman not only helped during the initial hours following the attack, but he also stayed on the scene for the next four days to assist forensic teams.

“I helped to recover 63 bodies before I was relieved,” he said.

The attack killed 189 people at the Pentagon (125 who were working in the building and 64 aboard the aircraft).

“I didn’t really think about any of it, I just did it,” SSgt. Braman said. “There was so much work to be done that people didn’t think about being hurt or tired or hungry. Once you had that mind-set, you had to go back into the building.”

—Dennis Steele


Soldiers and civilians to be honored wait for the ceremony to begin.

Award Recipients

Soldier’s  Medal and the Purple Heart

SSgt. Christopher Braman

Lt. Col. Victor Correa

Sgt. Roxane Cruz-Cortes

Maj. John Grote

Lt. Col. Robert Grunewald

Col. Philip McNair

Capt. Darrell Oliver

Spc. Michael Petrovich

Sgt. Maj. Tony Rose

Lt. Col. Marilyn Wills


Soldier’s  Medal

Lt. Col. Paul Anderson

Maj. Victor Badami

Col. Gerald Barrett

Lt. Col. Thomas Cleary III

Lt. Col. Kenny Cox

Col. John Davies

Lt. Col. Adrian Erckenback

CWO 5 Paul Heggood

Maj. Michael Kerzie

Capt. John Lamm’e

Lt. Col. William McKinnon

Col. Karl Knoblauch Jr.

Col. Edwin Morehead

Lt. Col. Danny Pummill

Maj. David Richardson

Sgt. Matthew Rosenberg

Maj. Patrick Tennis

Col. Roy Wallace


Distinguished  Civilian  Service

For Bravery

Stuart Fluke

Janice Jackson

James Knickerbocker

Jeffrey Moore


Purple Heart

Cpl. Eduardo Brunoporto

Lt. Col. Michael Beans

Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell

Lt. Col. Lawrence Dudney Jr.

Lt. Col. Gregory Fritz

Spc. April  Gallop

Maj. Regina Grant

Sgt. Maj. Ronald Houle

Maj. John Jessup

Capt. Lincoln Leibner

Lt. Col. Philip Smith

Lt. Col. Robert Snyder

Lt. Col. Marion Ward

SFC Michael Weaver Sr.

Maj. David King Jr.

Col. Larry Thomas

Maj. John Thurman



Exceptional  Civilian  Service

For Bravery

Lee Ann Gutwald

David Theall

Linda G. Moore


Defense of Freedom Medal

Martha Carden

Stephanie Brown

Glen Heffel

Luticia Hook

Racquel Kelley

Louise Kurtz

Betty  Maxfield

Sheila  Moody

Dalisay Olaes

Ann Parham

Valecia Parker

Wendy Peer

Juan Santiago-Cruz

Wayne Sinclair

Mark Skipper

Patrick Smith

Lois Stevens

William Wright

John Yates

Alan Wallace






Soldiers and civilians to be honored wait for the ceremony to begin.

Spc. April Gallop, wounded in the Pentagon attack, and her son, Elisha. Elisha was visiting his mother’s office when the plane struck. He was blown out of his stroller and ended up on top of a pile of debris, unhurt except for dust in his eyes.