Coventry RI soldier honored | MassCops

Coventry RI soldier honored

Discussion in 'Military News' started by kwflatbed, Nov 5, 2007.

  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed MassCops Angel Staff Member

    Monday, November 5, 2007
    [SIZE=-1]By Katie Mulvaney

    Journal Staff Writer[/SIZE]

    Sgt. Earle Tammelleo, of the Rhode Island National Guard, is awarded the Bronze Star, with V for valor, during a ceremony on the parade field at Camp Fogarty in East Greenwich yesterday. At far right is Jennifer Tammelleo, his wife; at left is Governor Carcieri.

    The Providence Journal / Kris Craig

    EAST GREENWICH — Sgt. Earle Tammelleo refuses to take sole credit for the military actions that turned Iraqi insurgents back two years ago and allowed his entire Rhode Island Army National Guard unit to return home safely.
    Instead he parcels it out. He names Specialists Daniel Howe, Andrew Costa, Thomas Mills and Thomas Toppa. “I wasn’t out there alone,” he says.
    Tammelleo yesterday received the Bronze Star for valor, the military’s fourth-highest combat decoration, for leading a counterattack that sent enemies retreating and netted a cache of weapons south of Jazirah on Nov. 1, 2005. “Your actions brought back every single soldier, and actions like that, in the 861st [Engineer Company],” said Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Rezendes at an outdoor ceremony at Camp Fogarty in East Greenwich. A total of 3,700 Rhode Island National Guardsmen have been deployed since Sept. 11.
    Tammelleo and his unit were teaching Iraqi soldiers how to search houses to retrieve weapons hidden in bales of hay and from dirt-covered holes. They had captured a sniper that morning and were speaking with a local sheik when they came under fire from about 300 yards away, Tammelleo recalled.
    “We were there to show a force,” said Tammelleo, 30, of Coventry.
    As squad leader, he sent a Humvee up the road toward the shooters while he and others approached on foot in an effort to distract them by drawing fire. He instructed about 40 Iraqi soldiers to make their way up a culvert, where they could observe the opposition.
    The distraction allowed the Humvee to get in close and begin firing on the 20 or so anti-Iraqi forces, which began to flee. A heated firefight ensued in which 10 of the opposition were killed. Five cars packed with explosives were destroyed, Tammelleo said.
    The scene was chaotic, Tammelleo says, but, “Once bullets start flying, it’s kind of like instinct. You train for the big game.”
    In addition, his unit seized two launchers, assault rifles, a satellite imagery map showing coalition observations posts, three notebooks and Iraqi Army uniforms.
    His wife, Jennifer, pinned the Bronze Star to his uniform as his 3-year-old son, Aiden, looked on and dozens of family and friends rose to their feet in applause.
    “You’re just another shining example of what a citizen soldier is all about,” Brig. Gen. Brian G. Goodwin said.
    Tammelleo presented his wife and his mother, Lorraine, with bouquets in appreciation of their support and reached out to the wider company standing at attention before him. “I’d like to thanks the 861st — you guys are the best,” he said.
    Tammelleo graduated from Johnston High School and joined the National Guard after serving four years active duty in the Marine Corps. He works as a civil designer with DiPrete Engineering Associates.
    He gave his boss, Dennis DiPrete, a freedom award for his dedication during his deployment and his donation of $20,000 for global positioning equipment for the unit.
    Governor Carcieri and U.S. Rep. James R. Langevin attended the ceremony, along with state Auditor General Ernest A. Almonte and representatives of Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse’s offices.
    Tammelleo says he looks forward to being a private citizen when his enlistment ends Nov. 7. He wants to concentrate on his family and career, he says. Gesturing to Aiden, he says, “I missed half his life.”
    The ceremony began with a moment of silence for Special Agent Nathan J. Schuldheiss, 27, of Newport, who was killed Thursday by a roadside bomb near Balad Air Force Base in Iraq.

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