Fort Knox, KY - By Rick Miller - email
FORT KNOX, KY (WAVE) – A Fort Knox soldier was given one of the military's highest awards for an amazing story of sacrifice while serving in Afghanistan. Command Sergeant Major Jose Vega risked his own life to save five fellow soldiers. In a special ceremony, the military awarded Vega with the Bronze Star with Valor for an act of combat heroism.
"This is a significant award and it's not taken lightly at all," said Col. Christopher Toner, Vega's commanding officer. "Submitting somebody for that award means they have committed an act of valor that is significant to the point of recognition."
Vega was serving in Musa Gala, Afghanistan when his convoy entered an unchartered, 20-year-old Russian mine field. He describes the event as a sudden explosion.
"A big puff of black smoke, a tire going off in a crazy direction down into the valley, and this vehicle just flying high," said Vega.
With five casualties and one soldier dying, Vega took it upon himself to take the wheel and drive over hidden mines. He used himself as a buffer, driving his own vehicle ahead of the wounded soldiers.
"I wasn't really thinking about it, the mine field at that moment, only thing I was thinking about is we have soldiers that are injured," said Vega.
The Bronze Star with Valor award is the fourth highest medal that can be awarded for combat actions by members of the U.S. Armed Forces. When awarded for valor, it denotes that the award was earned through a single act of combat heroism. Vega humbly accepted the award.
"If I have to accept the award, I'll accept it on behalf of all those guys that I served with, and obviously for Corporal Griner, who we lost that day," said Vega.
That same day, the team was dispatched to help another squad in a fire fight.