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Soldiers with 1st Special Forces Group receive awards for actions during deployment

Scott Hansen/JBLM PAO Staff Sgt. David Hannah gets some help reattaching his new Bronze Star from his wife Ciarra

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The "fighting knife" that's seen in the U.S. Army Special Forces crest is said to represent a "silent" weapon that represents "straight and true" Special Forces troops.

Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord's 1st Special Forces Group recognized 14 of their own fighting knives and pinned them with Bronze Star Medals and Army Commendation Medals, some with Valor devices, at Evergreen Theater, Jan. 12.

With one Soldier who opted not to be mentioned, other recipients of the Bronze Star with Valor device were Sergeants 1st Class Kelley Calhoun and Travis Owens and Staff Sergeants Joshua Bliss, Steven Shade, Sean Digre and Luke Cheney. Those without Valor devices were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shane Gandy, Staff Sgt. David Hannah and Sgt. Dat Huynh. Army Commendation Medals with Valor devices were accepted by Master Sgt. Gregory Phillips and Staff Sgts. Michael Arnett and Noah Ley. Sgt. 1st Class Jarrad Smith received an Army Commendation Medal without a Valor device.

The Valor device, or "V" device, is awarded to denote participation in acts of heroism involving conflict with an armed enemy. Until 1964 was only fastened to the Bronze Star Medal, the fourth-highest combat award of the American armed forces.

In his remarks, Col. Brian Vines, 1st SFG's deputy commander, who made a point to hold a moment of silence for three recently lost 1st SFG troops who fell on deployment, said as modest as his troops may be, recognition of service for the day's recipients was important.

"I think if you asked any of our awardees ‘did you set out to perform valorous acts during your rotation?' or ‘did you set out to be a hero?' I think they'd say ‘no,'" Vines said. "They'd say the actions they performed was more inline with completing the mission and protecting their brothers and sisters on their left and their right, but we know it's much more than that. Not only the nation and the Special Forces Regiment, but 1st Special Forces Group sincerely appreciates your sacrifices and commitment to mission during these operations."

Brigadier General Steven Duff, U.S. Army Special Forces Command deputy commanding general, joined his troops at JBLM for their event. At JBLM from Fort Bragg, Duff said the trip was well worth the chance to see Soldiers whom he said were "winners."

"They were professional Soldiers before they went ‘SF' and that is why they wanted to go ‘SF,'" Duff said. "The reason they're here is because of NCOs that made them train and made them train hard; that's what makes Special Forces ‘special.'"

Duff, joined by Vines and the recipients battalion command team, formally presented the troops with medals Calhoun said were an honor, yet not necessary.

"The medals don't matter because you're earning them for the Soldiers you're fighting with," he said. "Twenty years from now it'll be these guys I'll remember, not the medals we wore."

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