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After 3 years, Army to upgrade 13 Silver Star awards for Iraq, Afghanistan vets

The Distinguished Service Cross for Army Pvt. Stephen C. Sanford, and two Silver Stars for Army Staff Sgt. Michael Barrera and Army Pvt. Joshua Joseph are prepared for presentation at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, Feb. 22, 2007. (Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen/U.S. Air Force)
April 19, 2019

The Army is upgrading 13 Silver Star awards given to Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as a result of a three-year long review.

The 13 awards will be upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross after a review concluded that service members’ combat actions during the Global War on Terror were inadequately recognized, the Army Times reported Thursday.

“Previously recognized for their bravery by award of the Silver Star, the Department of Defense upgraded the soldiers’ medals as part of a comprehensive review of commendations for heroism in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Lt. Col. Emmanuel Ortiz-Cruz told Army Times in March.

The upgraded awards serve as “recognition of their gallantry, intrepidity and heroism above and beyond the call of duty,” Ortiz-Cruz added.

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The Army previously identified 12 crosses that would be upgraded, but had not yet identified all of the recipients of the upgraded awards, Military.com reported.

Ten of the recipients have been identified so far:

The Army has been rolling out scheduled ceremonies for the awards, with the first having taken place in March.

The family of Maj. Thomas Bostick received an upgraded award on March 1. Bostick was recognized for sacrificing himself to protect his fellow soldiers during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2007.

“Bostick’s selfless actions ensured his soldiers had sufficient time to retreat through the hazardous terrain in order to seek cover and survive the attack,” an Army summary stated.

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest valor award in the nation. It is awarded for “extraordinary heroism” during combat operations.

As of March 1, only one soldier from the Global War on Terrorism had received the Army’s Distinguished Service Cross.

In Jan. 2016, Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ordered a review of the Silver Star awards, as well as the Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross, and Air Force Cross to determine whether or not the awards were appropriate recognition of service members’ valor.

“It’s important to me that the award system is fair, that leaders do spend a lot of time on it, they take it seriously and they are committed to making sure that people get the right recognition,” said Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford.

The three-year review examined 1,400 awards and resulted in the upgrades of 57 awards for valor, Military.com reported last week. Those 57 awards include 30 Service Crosses, 23 Silver Stars, and four Medals of Honor.