Tomorrow, 22 January 2011, at 10:00 former Army SSG James Takes will be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross at the Town Hall in Mooresville, NC. The Distinguished Service Cross is our Nation's second highest honor behind the Medal of Honor. I'm told that the review board was split as to whether SSG Takes should be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross or the Medal of Honor.
I'm sad that I won't be able to be there to honor and support James but I know that there will be many in attendance - those who served with him, family and friends and citizens of Mooresville will be there. I'm grateful for that.
SSG James Takes during OEF VIII
On November 9, 2007 SGT Takes (his rank at the time) was a Team Leader in Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment. Their patrol had left the village of Aranas and had been hiking through the incredibly rugged and remote terrain of the Hindu Kush mountains when they were ambushed.
Following is the story in my own words as best I know it:
When the ambush happened the entire patrol was almost immediately pinned down along a narrow trail in the mountains. SGT Takes and his men returned fire and he began giving orders first to lay down suppressive fire then for his men to follow him towards an area that would provide better cover. SGT Takes put himself in harms way by drawing the enemy fire as his men moved to better cover. He was shot in one of his arms while doing so but was able to join them while moving through the hail of bullets
By the time SGT Takes joined back up with is men everyone of them had been wounded and one had been killed in action. They, as well as another element of the US patrol, were still be fired upon from multiple locations by the enemy estimated to be 150 strong. At one point during the ambush that lasted for hours an RPG landed so close to SGT Takes that it rendered him unconscious for a time. When he recovered he realized that another of his men had been knocked down a hill by the RPG. SGT Takes moved to pull that Soldier back to safety with his good arm. While doing so he was shot in his good arm. SGT Takes was shot multiple times during the ambush. Thankfully his IBA "caught" most of the rounds.
Although he was shot in both arms it is my understanding that SGT Takes helped to treat the wounded from his team before leaving them to help out another team in the patrol that had taken more casualties and was continuing to take fire.
When the ambush was over six great men, true American Heroes, had been killed and many more had been wounded. I wrote about those six American Heroes here.
1LT Matthew Ferrara
SGT Jeffery Mersman
CPL Sean K. A. Langevin
CPL Lester Roque
SPC Joseph M Lancour
Marine SGT Phillip A. Bocks.
Please go to the link and read about these men who gave their all that day for our nation. It is my understanding that (former) SSG Takes has asked that they be remembered tomorrow. Just one more testament to the man that he is.
I have ZERO doubts there is much more to the story of this ambush. The Citation has not been published yet. I know it will tell a much more detailed version of that day. I will update this post once it is released.
There's more I would like for you to know about James. James was honorably discharged from the Army in January 2009. Two weeks after returning home he was involved in an motorcycle accident - a truck turned in front of him. From this article in the Statesville Record and Landmark: published April 3, 2009
"Takes sustained serious injuries, including a broken arm, shoulder, collarbone, ribs, back and pelvis. He also suffered an injured spleen.
His injuries were so severe that physicians said he would not walk for six months and would require the assistance of a wheelchair.
Now, Takes is proving physicians wrong. He is not wheelchair-bound but relies on a crutch to get around.
He said he refuses to use a wheelchair because he wants to do things on his own.
"I like to be independent," he said. "I don't like anyone to do anything for me."
After the accident, physicians suggested Takes withdraw from college and move into a nursing facility during his recovery process, but he had other plans.
He ended up dropping one class, but was still registered for 18 credit hours, which is more than a full load.
"It (coursework) wasn't going to get done with me sitting at home," he said.
The article doesn't say it but I know that the award James was given was created just for him due to his actions both as a Soldier and for his inspiration during his recovery from the accident.
I could not be more proud of James and am grateful that he is being recognized for his Valor, Bravery and Actions on 9 November 2007. Damn proud of you James. Damn proud!