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Flores awarded Silver Star Medal

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PETTY Officer 1st Class Benny Flores, a former resident of Talofofo, was awarded the Silver Star Medal on Saturday, Guam time, for his actions while he was deployed to southwest Afghanistan last year. The ceremony took place at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Flores was honored for the heroism he displayed on April 28, 2012, while he was serving in a convoy as a field service medical technician during combat operations in Zaranj, Nimroz province, Afghanistan. He provided lifesaving medical care to Marines and Afghan Uniform Police during an enemy attack despite his own serious injuries, according to a release from the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

According to the award citation, Flores was a passenger in a vehicle that was struck by an Improvised Explosive Device and received small arms fire from enemy positions.

Without hesitation

Despite receiving shrapnel wounds to his arms and neck, and “without regard for his personal safety,” Flores treated the nearest wounded Marine while he was engaged by enemy small arms fire. He assisted the wounded Marine to a covered position and “without hesitation, ran back into the street, exposed to enemy fire, and quickly provided medical assistance to a severely wounded Afghan Uniform Police Officer still in the damaged vehicle,” according to the citation.

Flores moved the injured Afghan officer to cover and administered first aid. Under the cover of suppressive fire from members of the convoy, he returned a third time to the damaged vehicle to help another wounded Marine. After Flores applied a tourniquet, the wounded Marine was carried to cover where Flores continued to treat the wounded. Under the cover of fire by nearby Marines, Flores crossed the street a fourth time to treat the final wounded Marine, according to the release.

Extraordinary

“Flores steadfastly refused treatment for his own wounds until all of his comrades were treated. By his extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty, Hospital Corpsman First Class Flores reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service,” the citation reads.

The medal was presented by Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus, commanding general of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Forward. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege for me to have had an opportunity to participate in this ceremony today to recognize the selfless act of bravery that 'Doc' Flores executed,” Gurganus said. “Wounded with a concussion running four times back out into an ongoing firefight without any hesitation at all – I don’t think Doc Flores got up that morning and thought today’s the day I’m going to be a hero. He saw what needed to be done and he acted ... with bravery and ... without regard for his own life.”

Flores thanked those in attendance and said, “I truly wish we all came back. Unfortunately, we didn’t. We lost one guy, Master Sgt. Scott Pruitt, and to this day he’s always in my thoughts and prayers. I really wish he were here, maybe not for this ceremony, but just to see his face and him being with his family, his two daughters that he left behind. Please keep him in your prayers.”

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