FORWARD OPERATING BASE WILSON, Afghanistan – Late July into August, the Arghandab River Valley saw an epic five-day battle between entrenched Taliban and an artillery turned infantry unit from Combined Task Force Top Guns. At the intersection of routes Mariners and Highlife, known as Objective Bakersfield, the two forces went toe to toe with each other and days later, with the blood of the fallen still wet, the Top Gun Soldiers kicked a Taliban force out of their own backyard.
One Soldier stood out from that clash, now called the Battle of Bakersfield and was awarded the Silver Star for his actions during the fierce fight.
On Monday, Sgt. 1st Class Kyle Brooks Lyon, platoon sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was awarded the Silver Star Medal for his heroic actions during the Battle of Bakersfield. Lyon modestly accepted the military’s third highest-ranking medal.
“I don’t know what to say, but I was just doing the same things everybody else was doing while out there,” said Lyon. “It was just good Soldiers doing good soldiering.”
The award ceremony was held on the same bridge HHB crossed at the beginning of the fight, where they lost three of their brothers. Other Top Gun Soldiers were awarded valorous medals for their actions at Bakersfield as well and Gen. David Petraeus, the International Security Assistance Force commander, pinned on their awards.
“Let me just tell you first of all, just how privileged I feel to be able to recognize these great heroes right here and to do it on what really is sacred ground,” said Petraeus. “Three of our brothers from this force died here and nearly 20 were wounded in a very, very tough fight now known as the Battle of Bakersfield. This is one of those days historians would describe, as extraordinary courage was ordinary on that day.”
Lyon did not speak much about his own actions during those days in the Afghan summer, but his Soldiers who fought at his side said much on his behalf.
“It was so loud on the ground and he was calling for fire and when 1st Sgt. Brown went down from the mortars, he was there to jump in,” said Staff Sgt. Raymond Reed of HHB. “We had no platoon leader and he had big shoes to fill; if Sgt. 1st Class Lyon was not there, the Battle of Bakersfield may have taken longer, may have had more casualties and may not had gone as smooth as it did.”
“Soldier first” is Lyon’s belief and his actions go far beyond his normal duties from his military occupational service of an Army meteorologist.
“I am a weather man by trade and that’s what I am,” said Lyon. “Regardless of what we joined the Army to do, at that point in time, we were riflemen, machine gunners and fighters against our enemy.”
Lyon’s men are proud of him and what he did characterizes him and his unit.
“I am honored that he is getting the Silver Star,” said Reed, who fought with Lyon during the battle. “He led us well during the Battle of Bakersfield and he represents the platoon well, he represents the battery well and he represents the battalion well.”
Shaking the hands of the day’s awardees was Col. Arthur Kandarian, 2nd BCT commander, who has a lot of respect for his Top Gun unit.
“You all know better than I do, a little piece of cloth won’t take back that mental experience you had nor our casualties, but it speaks volumes for what you did that day,” said Kandarian. “So on a very honorable piece of ground… I’m privileged to be here with you all.”