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Minnesota National Guard
Staff Sgt. Malmberg is Awarded Silver Star

Staff Sgt Chad Malmberg of 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry seemed calm the morning of Sept 22 His demeanor was confident and intense, but at the same time inviting He is the type of Soldier who does not hesitate to sound off if he needs to be heard

However, in the crowded auditorium on the second floor of the St Paul River Centre, which was full of returning 1/34th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers, he stood close to whom he talked, and kept his voice low

Staff Sgt Malmberg looked tired, like he hadn't slept much, but he kept a wide-eyed, focused stare He'd been doing interviews, as well as college homework all week before reporting to the St Paul River Centre for reintegration training, and a ceremony to honor his heroic actions during combat in Iraq His superiors were to give him one of the military's highest honors, the Silver Star, the Army's fourth-highest decoration

The Event

On a dry, warm Iraqi night January, 27, 2007, Staff Sgt Malmberg's 25-vehicle convoy left Baghdad International Airport at 10:32 and was forced to take a defensive position when a convoy in front of them was struck by roadside bomb

Staff Sgt Malmberg's convoy was about to experience a tactic the insurgency uses to ambush a convoy Approximately 30-40 insurgents were spread far out along the southwest side of the road, with strong fighting positions behind berms and they attacked with rocket propelled grenades and machine-gun fire

As the leader of the convoy, Staff Sgt Malmberg's training kicked in immediately and he got communication going to tell all the vehicles in his convoy what to do, to report the situation and coordinate in fire from his units He was doing all of this dismounted from his vehicle and under fire, when the rear of the convoy came under heavy attack

Staff Sgt Malmberg grabbed an AT-4 rocket launcher hit the largest concentration of insurgents with a round and eliminated enemy fire from that direction He then directed his elements to paint the targets of insurgents with infra red lasers for an air strike The air strike was unable to take place, as the insurgents had gotten too close to the convoy Staff Sgt Malmberg used all of his training and leadership skills to navigate the convoy through barriers in the road, and to engage the enemy

For 40 minutes, the battle went on, until Staff Sgt Malmberg, with his convoy beginning to run low on ammo, threw a hand grenade at insurgents as they attempted to attack the rear of the convoy, and killed approximately seven more insurgents Through the leadership in coordination and brave acts of Staff Sgt Malmberg, and the effective execution of the men in his unit, the insurgents were defeated, and convoy made it to safety

Back in Minnesota

Nine months later, back in St Paul, Staff Sgt was gearing up for a day of reintegration training He was the in the spotlight for the entire morning, greeting his Soldiers and everyone else that wanted to talk to him

Before the reintegration training kicked off, the Commander-in-Chief of the Minnesota National Guard Governor Tim Pawlenty and 34th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Rick Erlandson had arrived for the ceremony to present Staff Sgt Malmberg with his award Malmberg was visibly excited to be honored by the highest levels of He shook their hands and talked with them behind the scenes before the ceremony began

"One of the words (in the award) is gallantry Gallantry in service One of the definitions of that is exception courage, extraordinary courage, but Sgt Malmberg doesn't think he's a hero," said Gov Pawlenty

Pawlenty was right When it came time for Staff Sgt Malmberg to speak, he simply approached the podium and asked all the men who were in his convoy to stand As each individual was recognized, it was clear that Malmberg did not think he was the only hero in the convoy

"These are the men who fought by my side on that day," said Malmberg as he leaned toward the microphone

That was all it took for the crowd to erupt in a cheer Once Malmberg saw that he had made clear the bond of his unit and the pride that he had for all of his Soldiers and their dedication on the day of the ambush, he simply returned to his seat

After the ceremony, Malmberg spent time answering more questions from the media and enjoyed the company of his family, as he introduced them to Gov Pawlenty

When the festivities were over, it was time for Staff Sgt Malmberg to start reintegration training The event helping to transform the mindsets of Soldiers like Staff Sgt Malmberg into civilians or as his family calls him, Chad

Family approached him afterward; he gave respect to his elders and joked with his peers As his family was proud of his achievement, they were also just plain excited to see him

"Yeah, I know, man"said Chad to one of his family members "It's been way to long We should go get a beer some time soon"

After the Limelight

Chad is in his senior year at Minnesota State University in Mankato He's a Minnesota guy, doing the best he can as a citizen He has aspirations of becoming a St Paul police officer when he graduates from college and continuing to help his community

He said he's undecided about the next direction in his military career, but he has proven that he is a courageous leader who is capable of bravely confronting some of the greatest challenges His Silver Star is a symbol of that

Story and Photos by Cpl Joe Roos, Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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