Valor Friday

| February 14, 2020

This is a special Valor Friday, as the source is one of our own who met today’s VF subject while both were recuperating from wounds at Walter Reed. Mason has done his usual outstanding research and write up, and it was my honor to get these two together to tell the tale.


This week’s Valor Friday subject was given to us by our own Skippy. He served with James Ashley, who was a specialist with the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2008 when he earned the Silver Star. As Skippy puts it, from the Iraq War there have been only six Medals of Honor awarded. Five of those have been posthumous. The only living recipient is Staff Sergeant David Bellavia, whose medal was delayed 15 years from the time of his action. Skippy reminds us that there were many whose heroism “rated it 100 times over.” Let’s look at one of his personal heroes and I think you’ll agree.

The 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment was the last of the heavy armored cav regiments in the Army until it got equipped with Strykers in 2011, dropping the “Armored” from their title. Assigned to the 3d ACR’s 3rd Squadron, Ashley was in K (Killer) Troop for the 3d ACR’s deployment to Iraq in 2007. As an aside, look at the troop and regiment names for the 3d Cav and tell me that they don’t have fun and give the finger to modern PC culture. They get the stetson, spurs, and can call themselves a part of the Outlaw Troop in the Longknife Regiment.

The 3rd Cav had previously been deployed to Iraq, during the initial invasion in 2003, and again after less than a year stateside in 2005 for another tour. Ashley’s 3rd Squadron was posted to the city of Mosul upon their deployment on 25 October 2007. All elements of the regiment saw heavy fighting against insurgent forces for more than a year.

Oct 2008, as the regiment had been deployed for a year with no immediate end in sight, saw all three squadrons of the regiment in the same area of responsibility in Mosul, having previously been split up.

Ashley was part of 1st Platoon, Killer Troop on 12 November 2008 when his platoon was tasked with going to the Zinjili police station in Mosul. There they would engage in contact with friendly Iraqi forces, the 1st Company, 2nd Battalion, National police (who are co-located with elements of the 2nd Division [Iraq], at the time one of the most experienced formations of the Iraqi Army).

Once at the Iraqi compound, Ashley was part of the security posted around the courtyard. Ashley’s platoon leader went inside to coordinate with the Iraqi officers, relaying critical information both to them and from them.

It was then, less than ten minutes after they arrived, that an Iraqi Army soldier, armed with an AK-47 with a 75-round drum magazine, came out of a room and started shooting into the American soldiers also on security duty in the courtyard.

Specialist Ashley pushed a teammate out of the line of fire before finding cover himself, but not soon enough. An enemy round struck him in the face.

Once behind cover, Ashley was targeted by the insurgent, rounds missing him by mere inches. Returning fire, Ashley fired more than 60 rounds into the enemy soldier.

Once the threat had been neutralized, Ashley found one of his platoon-mates KIA and at least four others wounded (not including himself). Profusely bleeding from his face, his armor covered in his own blood, Ashley refused to seek medical attention, preferring to attend to his team and the mission.

An embedded NY Times reporter who had been in the room with the officers when the attack was underway described a scene of death and injured soldiers with one soldier standing alert, his rifle at the ready, despite a large gash across his face. That soldier was Specialist James Ashley.

Asking where he was needed, his platoon-mates decided to clear the three nearby rooms and detain all occupants in a central location. Moving with two of his platoon, Ashley cleared all three rooms and secured all personnel.

Once the site was “secure”, Ashley took a knee and provided security for his fallen comrades, preparing for a second attack. Ashley ignored repeated suggestions to return to a vehicle and attend to his wounds.

Ashley’s TC had been critically injured in the attack and was already transported to the Combat Support Hospital (CSH). Ashley volunteered, and received permission, to act as TC to allow the remaining vehicles to move to the CSH. Casualties were loaded into the Bradley fighting vehicles, while the rest of the men loaded into HMMWVs. The organized, rapid retreat saw all casualties being treated at the hospital 25 minutes after the first shots were fired.

1st Platoon, K Troop, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment lost two soldiers that day. Specialist Corey Shea and Sergeant Jose Regalado. SPC Shea was the first casualty of the Iraqi policeman, dying instantly from a shot to the head. SGT Regalado died of his wounds the following day, having been shot in the torso. Six others were injured, including Ashley. All of the injured recovered from their wounds, including SSG Greenwood (Ashley’s TC), who had been shot six times and whose femur was shattered.

For his bravery under fire and leadership during and after the attack, Specialist Ashley was awarded the Silver Star.

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 pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Specialist James David Ashley, United States Army, for gallantry in action while performing his duties as a dismounted squad member in the 1st Platoon, Troop K, 3d Squadron, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, in action on 12 November 2008, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, in Iraq. On that date, Specialist Ashley was on dismounted patrol in Mosul, Iraq. While securing the courtyard of a small building in the platoon’s sector, an Iraqi army soldier in uniform opened fire on him and his platoon, killing one soldier, and mortally wounding another. Without thinking and acting only on instinct, Specialist Ashley grabbed the private next to him and pushed the Soldier to cover. He then found cover and returned fire on the shooter. Shot in the face, he disregarded his injuries and continued to fire until the threat was neutralized. He then secured the three rooms of the building and continued to provide perimeter security. Refusing evacuation due to his wounds, as the platoon evacuated, Specialist Ashley took over one of the vehicles as truck command, a role he volunteered to perform and normally reserved for a noncommissioned officer. Specialist Ashley’s action saved the lives of 12 men in his unit.  Specialist Ashley’s actions demonstrate the highest qualities of Cavalry excellence and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Thunder Squadron, the Regiment of the Mounted Riflemen, and the United States Army.

Hand Salute. Ready, Two!
Thanks to Mason and Skippy for today’s Valor Friday.

Category: Army, Guest Post, Iraq, Valor

Comments (11)

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  1. 26Limabeans says:

    “An embedded NY Times reporter who had been in the room with the officers when the attack was underway described a scene of death and injured soldiers with one soldier standing alert, his rifle at the ready, despite a large gash across his face. That soldier was Specialist James Ashley”

    Excellent read. I would like to hear more about
    the NYT guy and read some of his stuff.
    Just curious.

    Thank God and the Cavalry for James Ashley.

  2. Frankie Cee says:

    “Heroes Among Us” has real meaning. I was gifted with being in attendance for a Silver Star Medal Ceremony for a Ranger in 2014. SFC Tony Fuentes Silver Star was originally submitted to be the DSC. It was awarded by MG McMaster. Some of you will be able to see the album here at my Facebook page:

  3. 5th/77th FA says:

    BZ to Specialist James David Ashley! “I’m not bleeding, that Trooper’s bleeding.” I have to utmost respect and appreciation for the young men and women who have continued to answer the call of their Country to fight with and for their fellow Service Members. Present Arms! Order Arms!

    Thanks to Mason and Skippy for this post.

  4. David says:

    Blood and Steel!

  5. Skippy says:

    Thank you so much for posting this
    I owe you all a huge debt

    Selfless service above self

  6. ninja says:

    Mason, Skippy and AW1Ed:

    Really appreciate all three of you sharing and posting the story of Specialist James David Ashley.

    This part especially caught my eye:

    “Specialist Ashley’s action saved the lives of 12 men in his unit.”

    There is a nice picture of him at this site with this info:

    “James Ashley’s grandfather was a veteran of service in the U.S. Navy during World War II.”