Oklahoma soldier honored for valor in Afghanistan

Tuesday, January 24th 2006, 10:22 pm
By: News On 6

FORT EUSTIS, Va. (AP) _ Two soldiers from Minnesota and Oklahoma who rescued a group of Afghan men from a burning building have received Soldier's Medals _ one of the highest recognitions a soldier can receive for heroism outside combat.

Army Specialists Aaron Wittrock and Andrew Roe received the honors Tuesday at Fort Eustis for their actions at the Kandahar airport in Afghanistan in April 2005.

Wittrock, 22, from Savage, Minn., and Roe, 20, a native of Newkirk, Okla., were overseas on a yearlong deployment set to end in December.

Authorities said the men were completing a training exercise when they saw flames burst from a nearby building.

The men _ at least one carrying a loaded weapon _ ran inside the burning building and pulled six local men out to safety. Officials later determined the fire had been started by a blowtorch on the roof where repairs were being made.

On Tuesday, the effort earned the men golden medallions accented with red, white and blue ribbons. It also got them a pat on the back from Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Fort Eustis' commanding officer. He reminded the men of the importance of the award.

``Put that thing in a prominent place,'' he said. ``They aren't given freely.''