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U.S. troops receive German medals

KABUL | Fourteen U.S. service members have received Germany’s Gold Cross Medal for their bravery in extracting wounded German soldiers from a firefight in northeast Afghanistan - the first time the award has been given to troops from another nation.

The Americans, all members of the U.S. Army’s 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, received the medals - one of Germany’s highest awards for valor - on Wednesday at a German base in Kunduz province in Afghanistan.

The U.S. crewmen were honored for risking their lives to rescue German soldiers ambushed by more than 200 Taliban fighters during a patrol April 2 near the provincial capital of Kunduz. Eleven German soldiers were critically wounded, and the battle was still active when U.S. Black Hawk evacuation helicopters arrived.

“We came under very heavy fire,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jason LaCrosse. “We couldn’t land at first, but we came back in a second time and loaded two casualties, brought them back to the hospital, then we went back to get more.”

Three of the German soldiers died of their wounds.

From wire dispatches and staff reports