Brave Rifles! Veterans! You have been baptized in fire and blood and have come out steel!
–General Winfield Scott, 1847
In the annals of American military history, there have been thousands of acts of heroism – men and women whose individual courage merited some of the nation’s highest commendations. It is sometimes forgotten, however, that the ethos of the American warrior does not lie in the individual. Heroism lies in something beyond self, which is why the United States also recognizes those units that display extraordinary gallantry in action, gallantry that sets the unit apart from other units serving in the same conflict.
Long before cities like Fallujah, Ramadi, Qaim, and Husaybah became widely known, the men and women of the 3rd Cavalry formed the nucleus of Task Force Rifles – a regimental combat team, 8,300 troopers strong.
In late April 2003, the team was tasked with securing the volatile Anbar region, a vast 140,000 square-kilometer area the size of Wyoming, which includes some of Iraq’s most forbidding terrain – and some of Iraq ’s most hardened and lethal insurgents. In all, the unit received more than 400 awards for individual acts of valor and 233 purple hearts for their actions in Iraq . But it was their distinguished work as a unit, in the most complex and dangerous region of Iraq, that made them so noteworthy.
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