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Army elevates soldier’s Silver Star to 2nd-highest valor medal

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Staff Sgt. Stevon A. Booker, whose unit led the 2003 offensive into Baghdad known as Thunder Run, will be posthumously awarded the nation’s second-highest medal for valor, the military said.

Booker, who initially was awarded the Silver Star for his heroics during the battle, will have that medal upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. His family will receive the award during a ceremony this April 5 in Pittsburgh.

“Booker’s mother, “Booker’s mother, Freddie M. Jackson, will be presented the award 16 years to the day after her son sacrificed his life for this nation,” the 3rd Infantry Division said in a statement.

Booker, who served with that division, was part of the push into Baghdad that toppled Saddam Hussein’s regime. On April 5, 2003, Booker’s platoon came under attack by small-arms and rocket-propelled grenades, the Army said. Booker returned fire with his mounted machine gun and reassured his team. But when his gun malfunctioned, Booker took the initiative and “completely disregarded his personal safety and took up an exposed prone position on the top of his tank,” the Army said.

Facing enemy fire, Booker destroyed an enemy vehicle and fought to protect his platoon’s flank. He continued to fight the enemy while exposed for nearly five miles until he was fatally wounded, the Army said.

The medal upgrade came as a result of a review of all valor awards, which was ordered by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter to ensure acts of bravery were properly recognized.

Earlier this month, the Army also said former 1st Cavalry Division soldier Sgt. Daniel E. Cowart will have his Silver Star upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross for heroics during a suicide bomber attack while on patrol in Iraq in 2007. He will be recognized during a March 20 ceremony at Fort Hood, Texas.

And on Friday, Maj. Thomas Gordon Bostick of the 173rd Airborne will be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously for valor during a 2007 ambush in Saret Koleh in Afghanistan. He originally was awarded the Silver Star, but the Army recently announced the medal would be upgraded for his efforts in protecting his soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment.

The ceremony for Bostick will be held at Fort Carson, Colo., on Friday.


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