Lt. David Tiedeman at Balad Ruz (Denver Post)
Two National Guardsmen were honored recently for their actions in a fierce firefight near Balad Ruz, an area northeast of Baghdad. As they were searching for stolen ammunition, the team of 12 Americans and two Iraqi companies came under fire from what turned out to be an insurgent training camp. Tiedeman, Betterton and their team began fighting back with a counter stike.
When two soldiers were wounded, Tiedeman ran through the kill zone to adminster first aid. Betterton provided cover fire, being shot 8 shots in the hand, stomach and leg in the process. After the wounded were evacuated, Tiedeman ran to Betterton’s position.
Betterton told Tiedeman to leave him, but his fellow soldier refused, saying, “I’m not going to leave you here. I’m going to stay here with you and we’ll fight it out together.” After tossing a grenade, Tiedeman took advantage of a break in the fighting to get his comrade out.
Two U.S. soldiers and two Iraqi soldiers died in the firefight; 17 insurgents were killed and a training camp was eliminated.
1st Lt. David Tiedeman received a Silver Star for his actions that day. Sgt. Robert Betterton was awarded a Bronze Star with valor. Another soldier, Sgt. Richard Stooksbury, will receive a medal as well for his service in the battle.
These Tennessee Army National Guardsmen risked their lives to protect each other, and represent the unspoken bond shared only by those who fight together. They are our heroes of the week.