- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 10, 2019

President Trump will award the nation’s highest medal to an Army Green Beret who braved heavy enemy gunfire in Afghanistan in 2008 to rescue wounded fellow soldiers who were in danger of being overrun.

Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams, 38, was previously awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day in the Shok Valley in Afghanistan’s Nuristan Province. On Oct. 30, that decoration will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor at the White House, officials said.

Master Sgt. Williams was a weapons sergeant in the 3rd Special Forces Group when his Green Beret A-Team, known as Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, was assigned to capture of kill high-value members of the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin militia group. Because of the inaccessible terrain, the Green Berets and a larger Afghan Army commando force inserted into the region by helicopter.

Gunfire erupted as Master Sgt. Williams and the others began climbing their way up the ice-covered mountain.

“It was kind of quiet and then all of a sudden everything exploded all at once,” he said in a statement released by the Army. The insurgents “had some pretty good shooters and a lot of people up there waiting for us.”

When he found out the lead element had sustained serious injuries, Master Sgt. Williams quickly gathered the Afghan soldiers and led a counterattack across a 100-meter long valley of ice-covered rocks and a fast-moving, waist-deep river.

“After leading his commandos up the mountainside to the besieged element, Williams arrayed his Afghan commandos to provide suppressive fire to keep the insurgents from overrunning the position,” Army officials said in a statement.

Master Sgt. Williams also braved enemy fire to rescue wounded U.S. and Afghan troops and move them down the mountainside to a casualty collection point.

“Realizing the danger to the wounded, Williams again led the Afghan commandos in a counterattack and fought for several hours against the insurgents, keeping them at bay until helicopters arrived to evacuate the wounded,” Army officials said in a statement.

Army officials said his actions saved “numerous” lives and prevented his element from being overrun. “That day was one of the worst predicaments of my life at that point (but) the experience from that has helped me through my whole entire career,” Master Sgt. Williams said.

He is from Boerne, Texas, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. Master Sgt. Williams enlisted in the Army in September 2005. He remains in the Army and is assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C.

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