Three Minnesota National Guardsmen who pulled Iraqi civilians from the burning wreckage of a two-van collision and helped them get care have received the Army’s highest award for noncombat valor.
On Nov. 11, the three guardsmen from the “Minnesota Red Bulls,” the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, were providing convoy security with their unit during the withdrawal of forces from Iraq.
Their convoy that day was stopped on a highway about 20 miles west of Basra when a smoke plume rose above it, said Schmidt, who was behind the lead truck. He and the others rushed to the scene to find the two vehicles in the collision. The vans were not yet in flames.
In one of the vans, the driver appeared dead, and his passenger was drifting in and out of consciousness and was trapped.
Schmidt soon realized the vehicle was on fire, with more people inside — three toward the front and six in the rear.