Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Support Work for Battle Yields Army Honor

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Support Work for Battle Yields Army Honor

Article excerpt

Byline: Christopher F. Aguilar, Shorelines staff writer

During the first few days of the Iraq war, Army Capt. Woody Cromley of Jacksonville Beach and his supply platoon participated in one of its biggest battles at the city of Najaf, about 100 miles south of Baghdad.

Their mission was to ensure the helicopters in the battle were supplied with fuel.

"We kept the 4th Brigade [an Army helicopter unit] in the fight," he said. "We made sure they never ran out of fuel."

Cromley's platoon operated a refueling area for the helicopters, which also served as a makeshift location to treat some troops injured in the battle. Several of Cromley's soldiers, who were trained in basic lifesaving skills, treated the soldiers before they were sent to hospitals in the rear of the American lines.

During the battle, Cromley made several four-hour trips to the rear of the battle lines to get additional fuel, including one trip at night. The soldiers couldn't use their headlights, due to the threat of an ambush. They had to be guided by Global Positioning System equipment and provided their own security.

Through the war, Cromley's platoon issued about a million gallons of fuel.

For his actions in the battle of Najaf, Cromley received the Bronze Star medal, the third highest recognition given to soldiers by the U.S. military -- after the Medal of Honor and the Silver Star. He received the medal last month in a ceremony at Hunter Army Air Field in Savannah, Ga.

Cromley's platoon, attached to the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, also is stationed in Savannah. At the time Cromley was nominated for the award, he was first lieutenant. He was later promoted to the rank of captain. Two other members of Cromley's platoon also received the Bronze Star.

"I was the only lieutenant in the battalion to receive this award," he said. "I knew they put me in for it, but I did not know if I was approved. …

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