Sgt. Craig D. Warfle receives Distinguished Service Cross
The Military Times today profiles four Rangers who received 3 silvers stars, and 1 who received the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award for valor. The stories of all four should be read by every American, so go read it over at Military Times, but wanted to share SGT Warfle's story here to whet your appetite.
Sgt. Craig D. Warfle
On Aug. 18, 2010, a special operations task force learned that a Taliban commander and weapons facilitator was meeting with at least 17 other fighters in Afghanistan’s Logar province to plan an ambush on coalition forces.
Two AH-64 Apache helicopters were sent in to strike the enemy’s location, then Warfle, who was a squad automatic weapon gunner, and his fellow Rangers were flown in to eliminate the remaining enemy fighters, according to the narrative accompanying Warfle’s award.
Warfle and five others, who made up Ranger Element 1, were sent to the northern side of a tree line to provide suppressing fire to allow a second Ranger element to assault from west to east.
As soon as Warfle stepped off the helicopter, however, he and his fellow Rangers came under heavy enemy fire. Without hesitation, Warfle returned fire and crawled 15 meters through the open, muddy field toward the enemy. He suppressed the enemy with 150 rounds from his Mk 46, a variant of the SAW, allowing the other Rangers to move into position.
Under fire and with no cover in the open field, Warfle continued to fire, suppressing the enemy and buying time for his leaders to determine a way to assault the enemy.
When Ranger Element 2 became pinned down in the open field to the south, Warfle and Sgt. Martin A. Lugo moved to flank the enemy position. When the men got within 25 meters of the enemy machine-gun positions, they were both hit with a volley of machine-gun fire.
Warfle suffered a gunshot wound to his right arm.
“It was a very superficial, lucky wound for me,” said Warfle, who has served three tours in Afghanistan. “It was like a hot shell from the rifle had somehow gotten into my jacket and was burning my arm.”
But Lugo was critically wounded. Warfle positioned himself in the line of fire and covered Lugo until the rest of his element could come to Lugo’s aid.
“I just stayed where I was,” Warfle said. “I couldn’t see anybody, but I could almost reach out and touch them.”
Warfle kept firing from his exposed position, allowing the other Rangers to pull Lugo to safety.
Because it was so dark, “I was standing up there alone, and I was just waiting for the next round to kill me,” Warfle said. “I was thinking about a rush of what happens when you die because I thought that was going to happen to me in the next few seconds.”
Only after Lugo was evacuated did Warfle treat the gunshot wound to his own arm. He then continued to fight for more than 20 minutes while the assault force consolidated and moved back away from the enemy positions.
“He steadfastly remained at his forward position delivering accurate fire on the enemy until all members of the assault force had moved across the open field to cover 100 meters to the west,” according to the narrative. His actions allowed the force to break contact, drop ordnance on the enemy and safely move to landing zone.
Lugo later died from his wounds.