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Former Fort Drum soldier honored with bronze star for saving fellow soldier’s life

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A former Fort Drum soldier was honored Friday with a Bronze Star with Valor device for saving a fellow soldier’s life in March 2012 in Afghanistan.

Sgt. Joshua Young, 26, Perinton, carried a badly injured and burned platoon sergeant to safety following an attack by insurgent forces in Siah Choy.

His heroism was celebrated at a ceremony Friday in Glenville, where he now serves with the 1018th Ordnance Company in the New York Army National Guard.

“It’s weird. I’m not sure what all the hubbub is all about,” Sgt. Young said. “It happened a long time ago, and I would do it again. It’s what you do.”

Comments from the ceremony were relayed to the Times through the state National Guard’s public affairs office.

At the time of the incident, Sgt. Young was paired with the A Company, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment as a member of the 760th Ordnance Battalion, Fort Drum.

According to the Army narrative of the incident, the commander of the company wanted to destroy a wall near its combat outpost that was used as cover by insurgents placing improvised explosive devices.

Sgt. Young, accompanying the mission as the explosive ordnance disposal team leader, and his team placed more than 1,200 pounds of C-4 explosive on the wall. However, during the placement, the unit was attacked by enemy AK-47s and mortars. One mortar shot set off about 400 pounds of explosives, incapacitating many soldiers near the wall, including a platoon sergeant.

Sgt. Young, thrown by the blast into a row of grapes, recovered and searched for casualties, at which point he found the platoon sergeant, who had internal injuries and burns on more than 60 percent of his body.

Ignoring enemy fire, Sgt. Young tracked down a medical aide to start treatment, then volunteered to carry the sergeant to a landing zone for evacuation.

Sgt. Young then reportedly returned to the wall and blew up the remaining explosives, destroying the wall.

He attributed his actions to his training, calling it “second nature.”

Brig. Gen. Michael C. Swezey, commander of the 53rd Troop Command, who pinned on the award, said he was “struck by the courage” of Sgt. Young.

Sgt. Young, who returned from deployment in March 2012, joined the state National Guard in August. He is taking community college courses with a goal of working for the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

News of Sgt. Young’s heroism made it all the way to Albany. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in a statement released Friday, said he was honored to celebrate Sgt. Young’s award and actions under fire.

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