(AP) A Minnesota National Guard soldier who led a fierce firefight south of Baghdad to defend a convoy of 20 trucks and their civilian drivers was awarded Saturday with a Silver Star, the nation's fourth-highest military decoration.
"He's a hero, no question about it," Gov. Tim Pawlenty said of Staff Sgt. Chad Malmberg before a crowd of about 1,000 National Guard soldiers and their families in a ceremony at St. Paul RiverCentre.
Malmberg, a St. Paul native, is the first Minnesota National Guard member since World War II to receive the medal, which is awarded for gallantry in combat.
During the firefight, Malmberg jumped out of his armored vehicle three times to fire a rocket and hurl grenades at the enemy that outnumbered his squad by more than two to one. His actions allowed the convoy to escape without a single soldier or truck driver being killed or wounded, and no vehicles were lost.
Malmberg attributed his honor to the U.S. Army's superior weapons and tactics, and to the courage of the 15 soldiers under his command.
"I remember when I was a little kid my dad telling me 'It's not the size of the dog in the the fight, but it's the size of the fight in the dog,' That day, we had a lot of fight in us," he said.
Malmberg, 27, is a Stillwater high school graduate and a senior at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He is majoring in law enforcement and will graduate with honors in December, after which he hopes to become a St. Paul police officer like his father and uncle were.