Sergeant First Class Joseph M. “Smoke” James, Jr – SFC

Sergeant First Class Joseph M. “Smoke” James, Jr – SFC – Operation Iraqi Freedom Field Artillery Heroes

Sergeant First Class (SFC) Joseph M. “Smoke” James, Jr.: Jacksonville, Florida, 13B, Platoon Sergeant, B/1-41 FA, 3d ID. SFC James demonstrated valor and courage in the face of personal danger under fire during combat operations in Iraq. On the morning of 27 March 2003, 2d Paladin Section, 2d Platoon (B22), suffered a catastrophic loss of an M109A6 Paladin howitzer during a fire mission in support of 1st Brigade operations at attack position Raiders in the vicinity of An Najaf. A second Paladin (B23) was about 100 meters away from the exploding howitzer. B23 then evacuated its combat-loaded vehicle. SFC James first evacuated the battery from the area surrounding the exploding howitzer and, at great personal risk, ran the 100 meters to the second howitzer and drove it to safety. SFC James’ bravery resulted in the battalion’s maintaining critical combat power for future operations.

On the afternoon of 4 April, a battalion convoy was returning from recovery operations to the battalion’s maintenance collection point located at Saddam International Airport in Baghdad. The convoy was ambushed two kilometers from the battery resulting in two friendly casualties. SFC James quickly dispatched three M992 FA ammunition support vehicles (FAASVs) to suppress the enemy and recover the ambushed convoy. Once the convoy returned to B Battery’s firing point, SFC James coordinated the battery’s defense in the face of an attacking enemy force. His actions resulted in three enemy vehicles destroyed, one enemy mortar position destroyed and 12 enemy personnel killed and preserved the safety of both the firing battery and medical treatment and evacuation of the two casualties. SFC James’ bravery and dedication to duty resulted in the safe and timely evacuation of one critically wounded soldier and the safe return of all personnel and essential combat vehicles to the battalion.

SFC James was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with “V” Device for valor for his actions during combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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