Friday Harbor man receives Bronze Star for bravery in Afghanistan

Tom Bauschke ... Friday Harbor man receives Bronze Star. - Courtesy Tom Bauschke
Tom Bauschke ... Friday Harbor man receives Bronze Star.
— image credit: Courtesy Tom Bauschke

Army Sgt. Tom Bauschke of Friday Harbor has received the Bronze Star for "Valorous and Meritorious actions while engaged in direct combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 May 2009."

Bauschke was a 41-year-old Army veteran and vice commander of the Friday Harbor American Legion post when, in 2007, he reenlisted in the Army as a medic – 19 years after his first enlistment ended.

After training at Fort Sill, Okla., he was assigned to 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, at Fort Drum, N.Y. His battalion was sent to Afghanistan.

About 8:10 p.m. on May 1, 2009, his unit came under surprise attack from Taliban fighters. “We were taking fire from three different positions,” Bauschke said in an earlier interview. “Immediately, every gun was firing from our position.”

His platoon sergeant was “hit bad,” he said.

It was only after the attack was repelled that Bauschke saw that he had been hit by shrapnel. A small piece had penetrated his skin between his ribs but was removable by forceps. “We think it had ricocheted and lost energy because it didn't penetrate further,” he said.

Twenty-four days later, Bauschke was presented with the Purple Heart.

The order giving him the Bronze Star reads:

To all who shall see these presents, greeting: This is to certify that the President of the United States Of America authorized by executive order, 24 August 1962 has awarded

TO Sergeant Thomas G Bauschke
1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment.

For Valorous and Meritorious actions while engaged in direct combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on 1 May 2009.

Sergeant Bauschke's courage and selfless dedication in a combat zone, under the most extreme circumstances, greatly contributed to the fight against the War on Terrorism. Sergeant Bauschke's actions reflect great credit upon himself, Task Force Mountain Warrior, Combined Task Force-82 and The United States Central Command.

Given under my hand in the city of Washington this 20th day of November 2009
Curtis M. Scaparotti, Major General, U.S. Army
Peter Geren, Secretary of the Army

"I was only doing my job," Bauschke said in an e-mail.

Bauschke said he will return to Friday Harbor when his enlistment ends next year. In January, he visited San Juan Island and talked to elementary school children about his work helping American military personnel and Afghan civilians as a medic. And on Feb. 11, he climbed 19,340-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise awareness of, and money for, the Wounded Warrior Project.

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