Idaho Army Veteran to Receive Bronze Star for Heroic Actions in Iraq Shootout
MOSCOW, Idaho (Tribune News Service) — When Michael S. Wells joined the United States Army immediately after graduating from Colville High School in Colville, Washington, in 2004, he had no idea what he was getting into.
“I had the idea that I was going to go to war, but I had no idea that I would be in an intense and fierce fight,” Wells said.
Instead, on April 20, 2008, Wells and his platoon found themselves in a deadly shootout in Sadr City, Iraq, in which Wells managed to kill enemy combatants and allow his platoon to continue its mission. .
Wells will receive a long-awaited Bronze Star from U.S. Senator Mike Crapo for, in the words of an Army official, “quick decisions, courage, and superb marksmanship (which) ensured the accomplishment of the mission and the protection of his comrades during fierce and intense combat”. .”
The awards ceremony will take place Friday at 6 p.m. at the Best Western Plus University Inn in Moscow, Idaho, and will be held in conjunction with a campaign event for Crapo.
Wells, 36, toured Iraq twice and was injured and awarded a Purple Heart on his first 12-month tour.
During the second 15-month tour, Wells conducted three patrols a day in an M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.
“When we deployed that day…our job as combat engineers was to clear the way for the US Navy Seals team on the Operation Gold Wall mission,” Wells said.
“My job was to take out (improvised explosive devices) with my 25mm guns,” he said.
As Wells approached a concrete wall, he spotted an IED mounted on the wall, capable of destroying his vehicle.
“I was able to neutralize the man who set off the IED,” Wells said. “I killed him.”
Shortly after, another enemy combatant was located in a nearby building with another explosive device designed to penetrate military vehicles and armored tankers.
Wells said he also killed that enemy fighter.
These movements, he said, allowed his comrades to continue their mission.
“Later in the afternoon, my platoon was engaged in a three-hour firefight,” Wells said. “I was able to neutralize more than a dozen al-Qaeda fighters maneuvering around the rooftop blocks.”
Meanwhile, the enemy engaged in small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and multiple explosive projectiles. As the enemy attempted to inflict multiple casualties on the platoon, Wells launched suppressive machine gun fire from his Bradley fighting vehicle, which allowed medics to treat injured members of his platoon.
“With the finest traditions of military achievement,” reads the U.S. Army citation, “Wells…distinguished himself by outstanding achievement and outstanding performance delivered to the United States….The actions of Wells on April 20, 2008 live up to the battalion’s ethos of “fight like hell” and is in keeping with the best traditions of military achievement…the Silver Lions Battalion and the United States Army.
Although the situation was scary, Wells said the emotional fallout didn’t hit him until much later.
“I’m not going to lie – I was scared but I had no time to be scared. The only thing I could think about was my comrades and doing the best for me and for them.
“Afterwards, I didn’t really have time to cry and the guilt of my fallen comrades didn’t really come to me until I got back from Iraq.”
When he arrived home, he enrolled at the University of Idaho and eventually earned a law degree. After graduating in 2017, Wells went into private practice and has dedicated his professional career to helping other veterans.
Most of his clients, he said, are veterans of the Vietnamese era – some of whom have seen the worst fighting of that war and have been exposed to chemical weapons such as Agent Orange.
“These guys have been treated very badly by the US government,” Wells said. “My job is to try to connect them to the service (for the effects) they’ve had their whole lives and to help other vets in the area.
“My goal is to help as many guys as possible, even if it’s almost too late (for some of them). And that’s really sad,” Well said.
“One common thread among veterans…is camaraderie. War is something that when we come back from war changes us all, whether we like it or not. (Veterans) are just one group that we went through the same experiences, went through the same things whether we like it or not I think more veterans in the area need to know that there are resources and that I am available to help them.
Wells is married and has two young daughters.
(c)2022 the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho)
Visit the Lewiston Tribune (Lewiston, Idaho) at www.lmtribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.