BERLIN (AP) — Germany has recognized 14 U.S. soldiers serving in Afghanistan for risking their lives to help German soldiers in a firefight, awarding them the country's Gold Cross medal.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, accepted the medals Wednesday after a meeting with German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

The U.S. soldiers braved fire from Taliban fighters to help bring wounded Germans to safety in northern Afghanistan on Good Friday.

Guttenberg said more U.S. troops would be serving in that region, bringing with them combat and medical helicopters.

Some 4,000 German soldiers control northern Afghanistan, which has recently become more volatile. Forty-three German soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2001.