STRONGSVILLE, Ohio--The son of a member of the Akron Fellowship, a Church of God group, has won the Bronze Star for his service with the U.S. Army in Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Ben Masek, 29, distinguished himself by valorous conduct Feb. 24, 2007, when a checkpoint manned by Iraqi National Police was attacked by anti-Iraqi forces.
Sgt. Masek was executing his duties as a tactical commander during a convoy-escort mission when his patrol arrived during the attack.
According to the narrative that accompanied the award, the scene was "chaotic and disorganized."
Sgt. Masek dismounted from his vehicle to assess casualties when the convoy came under small-arms fire.
"With little regard for his own safety," stated the narrative, "he hastily organized a counteroffensive with one gun truck and five Iraqi national police to secure the checkpoint."
Under direct fire from three concealed positions, he maneuvered a gun truck into the checkpoint to rescue the trapped Iraqi police.
Sgt. Masek and his team engaged the enemy, thus repelling the complex attack. He then entered the burning building to evacuate the wounded and "suppress the fire." He personally cared for a severely injured officer and assisted with his emergency medical care.
"His valorous actions resulted in forcing the enemy to withdraw, thus saving many lives."
Sgt. Masek's father, Church of God member Ron Masek, said he was not surprised by his son's courageous actions. "He has shown courage and action under stress" in other situations, Mr. Masek said.
In April, while on leave from his duties in Iraq, Sgt. Masek delivered the eulogy for four of his men killed just before he left the war-torn country.
When back home Sgt. Masek lives in Fort Drum, N.Y., with his wife, Keila, and daughters Mackenzie, five and one half, and Kristen, 4.