Faced with split-second decisions regarding life and death, Soldiers are trained to evaluate the situation and act in the next moment, knowing that their decision will affect not only themselves, but other Soldiers in their unit. On Jan. 5, 2009, Maj. Troy Scott was faced with one such decision, and acted without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety.
On what was supposed to be a routine site inspection in the Ghanzi Providence of Afghanistan, his patrol unit came under an attack from insurgents. When a grenade was thrown from a nearby rooftop, Scott risked his own life to save the lives his Soldiers. After throwing the grenade away from his fellow Soldiers before it detonated, he used his own body to shield a Soldier from the blast.
As a result, Scott sustained shrapnel wounds and dislocated his right shoulder that prevented him from firing with his dominant arm, but remained focused on the mission. After hearing the detonation, other Soldiers in the unit responded and were able to capture seven of the insurgents. Despite his injury, Scott led several other Soldiers in a foot chase to capture additional insurgents, as well as a substantial cache of bomb-making materials and ammunition.
In addition to receiving the Purple Heart, Scott has been nominated for the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions that day, as well as the Silver Star Medal for his exceptionally valorous actions while engaged in ground combat earlier in his deployment. Additionally, the Soldier was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service and leadership throughout the year-long deployment. However, like most Soldiers, he does not consider himself a hero.
“Im not sure if that day was any more dangerous than the other 400 days during my deployment. I witnessed a lot of heroic acts on a nearly daily basis from American, Polish and Afghani troops,” said Scott.
In conjunction with the National Guard State Partnership Program, more than a dozen members of the Illinois National Guard serve with thousands of Polish troops in the Ghazni Providence of Afghanistan. Working side-by-side with the Polish leadership, Scott served as the senior advisor to Task Force White Eagle and developed close bonds with many of the Polish troops.
“I was very happy with the time spent with them. They are all very well equipped and trained; they are great war fighters. At the unit level, they were as good as any force I have ever seen,” he said.
Scott currently resides in Springfield, Ill., with his wife and young son. He currently serves full-time with the Illinois National Guard as the Chief of Strategic Planning Division. After returning from his deployment, he keeps in touch with many of the Polish troops he worked with and has traveled to Poland several times. In the coming years, Scott anticipates another deployment to Afghanistan and looks forward to the chance to serve alongside the Polish Army again.