Mount Shasta solider receives Bronze Star

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta’s Michael Smith received the Bronze Star Medal on Saturday for his outstanding performance while deployed in Afghanistan in 2012.

Mount Shasta’s Michael Smith on Saturday received a Bronze Star Medal – the fourth-highest individual military award – for his outstanding performance while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

Sgt. Smith is one of 17 Siskiyou County soldiers in the Army National Guard’s 132nd Multi Role Bridge Company who were deployed overseas from February 2012 until early 2013.

Also receiving medals during the March 1 ceremony, held in Eureka, was Sgt. Jeffery Johanson from Redding and Spc. Nathaniel Warvi from Eureka.

The Bronze Star Medal may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone. Smith said he was awarded the medal based on the body of his work over the year he was deployed.

“It is a great honor to be recognized in such a way,” said Smith. “It would not have been possible without the support of my family, the guidance of senior leadership and an excellent group of soldiers in my command.”

Johanson also received a Bronze Star; Warvi was pinned the Soldier’s Medal, given for heroism in a non-combat situation. In July 2012, Warvi came to the aid of injured driver of an overturned vehicle. He used his MRAP recovery vehicle to lift the vehicle and pull the man to safety.

While in Afghanistan, the soldiers dealt with several dangerous situations, including an IED attack, a suicide bomber and fire from armed insurgents, according to their commander, Captain Adam Rix, who spoke at a homecoming celebration held in Mount Shasta last year.

While they were overseas, the 132nd was the only bridge building company in all of Afghanistan. They built, inspected, tore down and replaced more bridges than any other MRBC that had come before them.

During the homecoming ceremony in March of last year, Rix called attention to Smith, who, while deployed, pointed out some important details on a bridge abutment that were incorrectly constructed by Navy Seabees. Were it not for his initiative to inform superior Navy officers of the problem, the bridge building mission would have failed, Rix said.

In addition to the soldiers’ friends and family, the March 1 gathering was attended by Maj. Gen. Lawrence Haskins, commander of the California Army National Guard; Command Sgt. Maj. Harold London, and other key leaders from the 579th Engineer Battalion, as well as the 49th Military Police Brigade.

Afterwards, the unit took some of their boats and a bridge onto Humboldt Bay for training as they prepare for annual training in the summer.