Friday, February 25, 2011

Canadian in U.S. Special Forces wins bravery medal

OTTAWA — A Canadian who served with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan is to receive an American bravery medal.

Grant Derrick, a duel Canadian-American citizen, will receive the Silver Star on Friday for his part in a 14-hour battle in Hendon village, an isolated community east of Kabul.

The former Ottawa man, a member of the U.S. army special forces, was part of a raid in the mountains of eastern Afghanistan last spring. The action saw two commandos killed and three badly wounded.

Derrick, a 31-year-old retired staff-sergeant, was a member of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group, based in North Carolina.

A medic who spent most of his life in Canada until joining the U.S. army in 2003, Derrick is credited with saving the life of an Afghan commando shot in the face as the force swept into a Taliban weapons depot May 4.

He was carrying the wounded platoon sergeant — Sami Ullah — through an open patch of ground hoping for a medical evacuation helicopter when Taliban and foreign fighters in the hills above pinned them down.

The Afghan soldier was hit a second time laying on the stretcher and Derrick shielded the man with his own body, treating his wounds, as bullets whizzed around them for more than 20 minutes.

“I knew that he got hit. I could feel the jolt in the litter,” Derrick said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

“I thought to myself, at first, there’s no way this guy got shot again. Poor bastard. He already got shot in the face, now he gets shot again.”

They managed to take cover behind a pile of rocks.

Derrick was hit in the foot before the other commandos rallied to get them out of the open.

The village was surrounded by hundreds of Taliban who dug in to the steep mountains, amid dozens of well-hidden caves and spider holes. They poured down machine gun, AK-47 and sniper fire.

“It was coming down like a heavy rain. I’d never seen anything like it.”

The wounded soldier survived and his rescuers got to the landing zone just as two helicopters took off. The U.S. soldier directing aircraft on the ground, one of Derrick’s colleagues, had to beg for another flight.

A combat search-and-rescue CH-47 Chinook swept in under heavy fire and dropped its ramp, allowing Derrick to get the wounded man aboard.

“Everybody, every one of the guys, deserved a Silver Star that day. I just happened to be lucky enough to get one,” he said.

Two Afghan commandos died that day. Throughout the assault, U.S. helicopters and warplanes pounded the mountain sides in support of the beleaguered force.

Derrick, who left the army on Jan. 31, will receive the Silver Star and a Purple Heart at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Derrick says he considers himself Canadian, despite having fought with the Americans, and that Ottawa is still home because his parents and friends are there.

The Canadian Press


solfine said...

It's been a while since I visited you but Time has no excuses.
Great experience for this brave
man who found himself at a point of no return and completed what he started...Finnigan

Rogue Gunner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rogue Gunner said...

My name is Tony McNally I am a Falklands War veteran, who has PTSD. Over the years I have seen many of my fellow soldiers take their own lives due to their PTSD. More suicides than were KIA in the War. I have found that writing poetry has helped ,me in a big way and I would advise others to try and write things down. I have decided to put a book of poetry together to help raise funds for a UK mental health charity TALKING2MINDS if you would like to help spread the word or contribute or know of any other Canadian veterans or serving soldiers or families that might like their work published please let me know. it’s a for charity and you can keep your copyright. I want our Canadian brothers onboard to make this a truly International collaboration. Please send any contributions via email to