U.S. Army Sergeant Felipe Pereira was presented with the Distinguished Service Cross by General Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, during a ceremony on April 12.
While suffering from a partially collapsed lung due to shrapnel wounds, Pereira rescued other injured Soldiers caught in an ambush in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, on Nov ember 1, 2010.
Pereira is a dual citizen of Brazil and the United States. He became the first 101st Airborne Division Soldier since Vietnam to receive the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award for valor. He is assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 502d Infantry Regiment (Strike), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div.
Pereira’s citation reads: “His dedication and commitment to duty undoubtedly saved the lives of two of his fellow Soldiers, while his leadership and distinguished service were instrumental to his unit’s successful response to a lethal attack.”
He was serving with Combined Task Force Strike when his unit came under heavy fire. Then, as a specialist, Pereira and his squad were returning from a dismounted patrol in Senjaray, Afghanistan, when a suicide motorcycle-borne explosive device detonated in the middle of his squad as they attempted to enter their combat outpost.
Two Soldiers were killed instantly, while four others were severely wounded, including his squad leader and fellow team leader. Pereira sustained shrapnel wounds to his spleen, liver, and left lung.
While Soldiers struggled to gain situational awareness, the enemy initiated a complex ambush, firing on the patrol from an estimated seven fighting positions with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.
His lungs began to collapse and Pereira struggled to breathe. However, he refused medical treatment and instead commandeered an all-terrain vehicle and moved back into heavy enemy fire to provide an evacuation platform for his wounded comrades.
Pereira was able to move the vehicle within 20 meters of his fellow Soldiers, who were pinned down by enemy fire, but he was unable to gain effective cover. He immediately provided suppressive fires from the vehicle, allowing two of his fellow Soldiers to move two casualties to the vehicle.
As bullets ricocheted off the vehicle and nearly missed Pereira, he continued to provide fire direction for the remaining Soldiers on the ground. He then, quickly pulled the vehicle back into the entrance of the outpost, where medics were standing by to receive the casualties.
Pereira helped move the casualties to care, then moved back into enemy fire a second time to continue evacuating and directing his fellow Soldiers. He is credited with saving the lives of two of his fellow Soldiers, while risking his own on multiple occasions. Pereira did not accept treatment for himself, until all of the wounded Soldiers had been evacuated and were receiving medical care.