March 10, 2011
Virginia Guard Soldier to receive valor award for combat actions in Afghanistan
By 1st Lt. Brian J. Webb
RICHMOND, Va. — Capt. Jaden W. Stapleton of the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion will be awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for combat actions while serving in Afghanistan. His courage and gallantry under direct enemy fire Feb. 12 helped prevent insurgents from overrunning the Provincial Police Headquarters in Kandahar and saved the life of the chief of police.
Capt. Jaden W. Stapleton of the Virginia National Guard’s Virginia Beach-based 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion will be awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor for combat actions while serving in Afghanistan. His courage and gallantry under direct enemy fire Feb. 12 helped prevent insurgents from overrunning the Provincial Police Headquarters in Kandahar and saved the life of the chief of police.
Click HERE to download a high resolution version of this photo.
“With Capt. Stapleton’s prior experience embedded with Afghan soldiers, he showed a personal interest in protecting the Afghan Police he worked with on a daily basis,” said Lt. Col. Michelle Rose, commander of the 529th. “Very rarely do Virginia National Guard logisticians get to experience the level of relationships he has formed with our Afghan brothers in arms, and it took personal courage to respond on that day the headquarters was attacked.”
Since Sept. 11, 2001, Stapleton is only the sixth Virginia National Guard Soldier or Airmen to receive the award, the highest by any mobilized member of the Virginia National Guard since the end of World War II. The Virginia National Guard has mobilized more than 12,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Noble Eagle since Sept. 11, 2001.
Stapleton, a native of Wichita, Kans. who resided in Sterling, Va., prior to the deployment, was partnered with the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division’s Security Forces Advisory Team in Kandahar to mentor the Afghan National Police. While providing security at the nearby Afghan Border Police Headquarters, Stapleton’s combat patrol received notification that the Kandahar Provincial Headquarters was under intensive enemy rifle and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
Recognizing that Lt. Gen. Khan Mohammed, the provincial chief of police, was imperiled, Stapleton along with the rest of the patrol immediately moved through the crowded downtown streets of Kandahar City to relieve the besieged building.
Arriving on the scene after assaulting through the enemy’s fire in his armored vehicle, Stapleton immediately began scanning his sectors of fire from the vehicle’s turret, seeking the source of small arms fire. Stapleton immediately engaged enemy combatants with a .50 caliber machine gun while reporting enemy locations over the radio to other vehicles. Throughout the firefight, which lasted nearly an hour, Stapleton maintained suppressive fire in response to repeated enemy assaults while coordinating with the patrol leader and other advisors in adjacent vehicles.
Following a brief lull in the firefight as the Afghan National Police began clearing the lower floors of the five-story hotel adjacent to the headquarters, Stapleton engaged an insurgent preparing to fire another RPG from the roof. His continued vigilance, accuracy and gallantry under fire kept the insurgents from gaining the upper hand they needed to allow them to breach and over-whelm the defenses of the headquarters. As a result, the coordinated insurgent attack did not succeed in overrunning the Provincial Headquarters and killing the chief of police.
Stapleton has been recognized as a key member of the multi-national partnership that mentors the Afghan National Police to assist in the development of a sustainable, viable government for Afghanistan.
"Capt. Stapleton was instrumental in the training and education of the Afghan National Police," Rose said. "Jaden has fulfilled a key partnership need for logisticians in support of our Afghan partners in the region."
Stapleton spearheaded the training and education of the Afghan National Police supply accountability, maintenance, and weapons and munitions storage plans and policies for Kandahar Province, one of the largest and most volatile regions in the country, Rose said.
Stapleton is completing his second tour in support of the Global War on Terror. In 2006 he deployed as an Embedded Training Team member in Eastern Afghanistan to mentor the Afghan National Army. He arrived in Afghanistan with the 529th in May 2010 and the unit fell under the command of the 43rd Sustainment Brigade to provide logistical support to U.S. and Coalition forces, and he was later chosen to be an advisor to the Afghan National Police.
The 529th is scheduled to return to Virginia in late March, and Stapleton plans to resume his career as an international airlines pilot.
Additional reporting by Cotton Puryear, Virginia Department of Military Affairs