Two U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers - Master Sgt. Anthony Siriwardene (left in the above photograph) and Staff Sgt. Linsey Clarke (right in the photograph) - were recently awarded the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest combat medal, for their actions during combat in Afghanistan.
Siriwardene, 38, was cited for “valorous conduct” during seven engagements over a span of more than 50 hours from August 7-9, 2005, according to the U.S. Army.
His detachment was conducting operations with members of the Afghanistan National Army (ANA) in Zabul Province when they came under attack.
During the next 2 1/2 days, Siriwardene helped repel several attacks, rescued a soldier whose turret had burst into flames and assisted ANA soldiers who were trapped by enemy fire, the Army said.
“If not for the bravery of Sergeant Siriwardene, moving under enormous amounts of fire, ensuring no ANA were left behind, the ANA element would have sustained tremendous losses,” according to an Army narrative that accompanied the award.
Siriwardene came to the U.S. from Sri Lanka when he was 8 years old. He grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and currently lives in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
Clarke, 26, who grew up in Staunton, Virginia, was on his first deployment to Afghanistan earlier this year when the events that led to his award occurred.
Clarke’s patrol struck a roadside bomb and was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan, on February 20, the Army said.
Three members of the patrol were immediately killed.
Clarke, facing heavy enemy fire, pulled another service member who suffered two broken legs and a fractured back away from danger. “He then ran 100 meters back through enemy fire with no cover” to help another soldier, the Army said.
He again risked danger to help recover the remains of those who had been killed. “[Clarke’s actions] went well above and beyond the call of duty,” his award narrative said.