During a U.S. Army Ranger raid in Afghanistan, an enemy soldier pushed away Sgt. Robert J. Troemel’s rifle and tried to stab him in the throat. Troemel blocked the knife, which went through his hand, then drew his own knife, blocked more thrusts and killed the enemy attacker by stabbing him in the throat.
Troemel and 25 other members of the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning were recognized Thursday for their actions in Afghanistan between Dec. 15 and July 9. Troemel was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor and the Purple Heart.
“That is what we train for,” said Troemel, 26, after the ceremony at the 3rd Ranger Battalion Memorial. Troemel, who hails from Lansdale, Pa., has been deployed four times -- once to Iraq and three times to Afghanistan -- in the last four years.
“It was a great deployment,” he said. “We only had a couple of people to get injured.”
Staff Sgt. Richard J. Cessna was recognized for saving other Rangers during a night helicopter raid on a location known as a safe haven for enemy fighters. While under fire, Cessna pursued a fighter to a building where he fired an M67 fragmentation grenade then entered the building and halted any threat from the soldiers inside.
“You basically got a helicopter assault and we were moving up to our target and I saw somebody moving from a building so I interdicted them and started taking shots,” Cessna said. “I chased them down and located the building he was in.”
Cessna, 23, of Warren, Mich., said nobody really wants to get an award for actions he described as everyday life for Rangers.
“It is a team effort,” Cessna said.
Lt. Col. Marcus Evans said the awards event was a chance to recognize the Rangers on their most recent deployment. “It is a time to pause and it’s a time to remember what they have done,” he said.
The commander pointed to the actions of Pvt. 1st Class Gabriel J. Demaggio as selfless service displayed by Rangers.
Awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor, Demaggio returned early from his third deployment not to take a break but to enter Ranger School.
“This is an individual that deployed four plus months,” the commander said. “He is obviously in close contact with the enemy as recognized by the Valor award. He comes back only to pack his stuff and go out to Ranger School and graduate two weeks ago.”
Evans said all Rangers are quiet professionals and they wouldn’t want recognition if it weren’t done in a ceremony like the one at the battalion.
“I think the majority of them just want to do their jobs on a daily basis and they do it so well,” he said. “They are really the finest we have to offer. It’s an honor and privilege to be associated with them.”