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Slain soldier's family receives his Silver Star

By BRETT BARROUQUEREAssociated Press

FORT CAMPBELL - Army Spc. Shannon "Doc" Chihuahua scrambled from soldier to soldier as enemy fighters in eastern Afghanistan sent volleys of bullets and rocket-propelled grenades in the direction of his battalion on Nov. 12, 2010. As Chihuahua reached his last wounded soldier, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the 25-year-old combat medic, killing him instantly.

For those actions, the U.S. Army on Friday awarded Chihuahua a Silver Star - the third highest military award for valor - during a ceremony with his family and fellow soldiers at Fort Campbell.

"I'm always humbled and amazed by our young soldiers," said Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, the acting senior commander of Fort Campbell, during the ceremony.

Chihuahua's wife, Kristin Chihuahua of Thomasville, Ga., and several of his young children accepted the honor on the slain medic's behalf. The family did not speak during the ceremony, but released a statement before the proceedings.

Kristin Chihuahua said her husband was "the best person to be around" and "always kept a level head."

"He would always joke that he knew how to save lives," Kristin Chihuahua said.

Chihuahua, a member of 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was with the battalion's 3rd Platoon, D Company in the Watapur Valley of Afghanistan's Kunar province near the Pakistan border when the group came under enemy attack.

The battalion was taking part in Operation Bulldog Bite, a multi-day operation deep in the Pech River Valley in Kunar province, which includes two main arteries, the Korengal and Watapur valleys. The 101st Airborne conducted multiple nighttime air assault operations aimed at rooting out enemy fighters from the small mountain villages.

By the time the operation ended, at least six soldiers died and the Army said the Taliban suffered a severe disruption in the area.

While coming under fire from at least three directions, several soldiers suffered injuries almost immediately. The Army said Chihuahua "left the safety of his position and ran through heavy machine gun fire to attend to his fellow soldiers' wounds."

"He moved from soldier to soldier rendering medical aid," Stammer said.

A "barrage" of rocket-propelled grenade fire struck Chihuahua, killing him, Stammer said.

As Army officers recited Chihuahua's citation, Kristin Chihuahua wiped tears from her eyes. When she accepted the medal, Chihuahua smiled briefly and looked down at two of her children who joined her at the front of Liberty Chapel, which had more than 100 soldiers and dignitaries in its' pews, for the ceremony.

"The sheer number of platoon members here today is a testament to how great he was," Stammer said.

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