President Trump will award the Medal of Honor to an Army Green Beret who fought his way up a frozen mountain in Afghanistan to help rescue wounded comrades during a mission to kill or capture a terrorist leader.
Master Sgt. Matthew O. Williams was previously awarded the Silver Star for his heroics during the six-hour battle on April 6, 2008, in Afghanistan’s Shok Valley. Williams was part of a joint U.S.-Afghan raid hunting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the leader of the former Hezebela Islami Gulbadin militia, Army Times reported.
He was serving as a weapons sergeant with the Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 at the time.
“Sergeant Williams’ actions helped save the lives of four critically wounded soldiers and prevented the lead element of the assault force from being overrun by the enemy,” a White House announcement reads.
During the raid, Williams and his team, along with Afghan forces, were dropped into the valley by Chinook helicopters. The terrain made it difficult to land the aircraft, so the troops jumped into a cold, waist-deep river.
They had the task of hiking up the mountain to capture Hekmatyar, but encountered heavy enemy fire once out of the chopper.
“In the face of rocket-propelled grenade, sniper and machine-gun fire, Sergeant Williams led an Afghan Commando element across a fast-moving, ice-cold and waist-deep river to fight its way up a terraced mountain to the besieged lead element of the assault force,” the statement said. “Sergeant Williams then set up a base of fire that the enemy was not able to overcome.”
When a group of American troops became pinned down and wounded, Williams climbed up the cliff to help effect a rescue and repair the team's satellite radio. He exposed himself to enemy fire again to move several casualties down the near-vertical mountainside while carrying and loading the wounded into helicopters.
His actions helped save the lives of four critically wounded soldiers and prevented the lead element of the assault force from being overrun, the announcement said.
Former Staff Sgt. Ronald Shurer II received the Medal of Honor last year for his actions during the six-hour battle.
Army Times said the military claims more than 150 enemy fighters were killed during the raid. Williams, of Boerne, Texas, joined the Army in 2005. He deployed to Afghanistan multiple times throughout his military career.
The battle was one of the most difficult during his time in Afghanistan, he told Stars and Stripes.
He is currently assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg. N.C. Trump will present the award in a White House ceremony on Oct. 30.