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Awarded posthumously for actions during the Global War on Terror
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Staff Sergeant Justin M. Estes, United States Army, for gallantry in action while serving with Company C, 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 82d Airborne Division, in action on 5 March 2007 while on combat patrol operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08. Staff Sergeant Estes' instinctual actions and personal courage undoubtedly prevented a future attack on Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces or innocent civilians at the cost of his own grievous injuries. Staff Sergeant Estes' actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon him, Task Force 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Task Force Lightning, and the United States Army.
NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD:
Staff Sergeant Estes distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty of 5 March 2007, while serving as a Squad Leader in 1st Platoon, Charlie Company, 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, during a complex improvised explosive device (IED) attack in the city of Samarra, Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08. Staff Sergeant Estes' platoon was tasked with conducting reconnaissance of the berm on the eastern side of the volatile city of Samarra in order to prevent the flow of insurgent forces into the city. During the patrol, the lead HMMWV struck a pressure activated IED resulting in the catastrophic destruction of the vehicle, followed by a secondary command-detonated IED targeting the casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) team. Staff Sergeant Estes was the truck commander of the third truck in the patrol when the first IED was struck, placing him 100 meters behind the lead HMMWV to provide security for the patrol. The first IED engulfed the lead HMMWV in flames, leaving burning debris scattered around the detonation site. Five Paratroopers were injured in the blast, two of whom were thrown from the truck; they were still alive, but on fire and among the burning debris. Without hesitation and aware of the imminent danger posed not only by the flames and exploding ordnance, but also secondary IEDs, Staff Sergeant Estes grabbed the fire blanket and ran through the inferno surrounding the destroyed vehicle to render medical aid. Staff Sergeant Estes feverishly attempted to save the life of Staff Sergeant Stanley, providing medical care until the platoon medic arrived. Staff Sergeant Estes then took charge of the combat lifesaver team and began moving casualties out of the wreckage and flames for treatment. Staff Sergeant Estes provided calm and decisive leadership at the detonation site, directing the continuing search for Paratroopers affected by the blast, even as ammunition cooked off around him. Having cleared the casualties from the fire, and with his equipment literally melting from the intense heat, Staff Sergeant Estes remained at the side of Staff Sergeant Stanley as he called the stretcher teams forward to conduct CASEVAC. As the teams approached, the imminent danger at which Staff Sergeant Estes had placed himself in order to save the lives of his comrades was realized, as he was engulfed in a cloud of smoke and debris as a secondary IED detonated directly underneath his feet, killing him instantly. In an ultimate act of bravery and selfless service to his comrades in which he gave his own life, Staff Sergeant Estes attempted to save the lives of five of his comrades. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Staff Sergeant Estes gallantly gave his life for his country, upholding the highest traditions of military heroism and reflecting distinct credit upon himself, Task Force Two Panther, Task Force Lightning, and the United States Army.
Action Date: March 5, 2007
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Company: Company C
Battalion: 2d Battalion
Regiment: 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team
Division: 82d Airborne Division
Four years have come and gone since we lost our son and hero. In some ways, time has flown by and in others, it has stood still. Justin - I miss you and your smile, your undying sense of humor, wit and charm, but mostly I miss my son and those wonderful bear hugs only you could give.
I Love You!