The Veterans Art Center Tampa Bay has created a legacy award in honor for Fallen Solider

More details and requirements will be announced

Bio on SSG Christopher M. Falkel:

Chris was born on 24 September, 1982 in Boston, MA. He lived in Athens, Ohio from 1984 – 1990, when we moved to Littleton, Colorado. Chris attended Northridge Elementary School, Cresthill Middle School, and graduated from ThunderRidge High School in 2001.

On 25 October, 2001, Chris enlisted in the U.S. Army. He was stationed at Ft. Benning, GA for his Basic Training and his Advanced Infantry Training. He graduated AIT in March, 2002. He then attended Airborne School at Ft. Benning, before being assigned to Ft. Bragg, NC where was a member of the fourth class of the Special Operations Preparatory Course. In June 2002, he completed Special Forces Assessment and Selection, and was assigned to the Special Forces Qualification Course and graduated 21 May, 2003. After finishing his Arabic Language course and SERE training, he was assigned to Operational Detachment –Alpha 316, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) as a Weapons Sergeant (18B). He was promoted to Staff Sergeant (SSG) on 1 November, 2004. His schooling in Special Forces included Blackwater Combat Marksmanship Course, Gryphon Group Force Protection Course, Mid-South Self Defense Institute, SFARTAETC, and his favorite course, the one he was most proud of, Special Operations Target Interdiction Course.

His first overseas deployment was in February, 2004 to Gereshk, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. His second deployment was also to Afghanistan in June, 2005 and he was killed in action during the fifth of seven contacts in the 54 hour Battle of Mari Ghar in Afghanistan on 8 August, 2005 while saving the lives of his 10 teammates and 16 members of the Afghan National Army that were assigned to his team. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on 22 August, 2005.

SSG Christopher M. Falkel’s awards include the Silver Star (the Narrative for his Silver Star is attached), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Special Forces Tab.


Staff Sergeant Christopher M. Falkel distinguished himself by exemplifying spirited bravery as the Weapons Sergeant for Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 316, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM from 7 August 2005 to 8 August 2005. SSG Falkel distinguished himself in five fierce enemy engagements with a well trained, emplaced aggressive enemy during a time span of thirty four hours while operating as the 50 cal. machine gunner on the last vehicle of our element, while conducting operations in the Zabol Province of Afghanistan while deployed to A-Camp Lane. SSG Falkel’s calmness under fire and tactical competence were imperative to the detachment’s survival. During our unit’s first engagement in the Buka Ghar Valley, SSG Falkel was instrumental in helping fix and engage enemy positions that had the entire element pinned down. His continuous engagement without concern for his own well being allowed our heavily suppressed elements to get to positions of better cover and his relentless punishment to the enemy while fully exposed later caused them to retreat. During our second contact in the Buka Ghar Valley, SSG Falkel once again was instrumental in accurately putting down heavy volumes of fire on well emplaced machine gun positions so other members of our unit could move up to pinned down Afghanistan National Army (ANA) elements that were part of our patrol and help consolidate, assess, and get control of their situation. We continued to receive heavy volumes of machine gun fire and RPGs from numerous positions. He played a crucial role in the final elimination and forced withdrawal of the enemy by providing cover for the ODA’s mortar team while they engaged the extremely fortified machine gun positions. If it wasn’t for the cover fire and marking of these positions by SSG Falkel, our element would have been seriously devastated by the well emplaced, heavily armed and numerically superior forces. Our element continued to pursue the enemy during their retreat when they sent ahead for reinforcements to set up what was to be the third ambush. During our pursuit, we received Anti Coalition Member (ACM) communications stating that they were targeting the last vehicle because it was very strong. This information didn’t faze SSG Falkel, as he still insisted that we must go forward and finish the enemy off. Upon the third ACM ambush, SSG Falkel immediately located and fired upon the well emplaced and trained enemy force without care for his own life while being engaged himself by a flanking element. His bravery allowed our ANA element to maneuver on the larger ACM element, later causing these same elements to maneuver to a location they thought would give them a tactical advantage. This only led them to a better vantage point for SSG Falkel, who was able to eliminate them during their maneuver to what would have been a position devastating to our ANA element. The remaining ACM elements broke contact again, only to reform and gather more experienced and trained fighters further down our route. The fourth ACM contact opened up on our lead element with concentrated fire, but SSG Falkel quickly and effectively responded as he had done in the previous contacts, knowing that he would draw fire upon himself.

Immediately to the flank of our vehicle the major portion of the ambush opened up with an extraordinary amount of heavy machine gun fire.
SSG Falkel, while fully exposed, quickly and effectively spun his turret and machine gun in the direction of fire and began to engage. The whole time rounds were impacting all around our vehicle and him. He continued to engage without care for his own welfare or safety, his only care being that of his fellow team members. He continued to suppress the well concealed enemy until aircraft came on station. SSG Falkel was able to spot and lay down effective fire so the aircraft knew where to fire to completely eliminate the enemy threat. Once again, we intercepted ACM communications that again said they were reorganizing at a location that they had success with in the past. SSG Falkel demanded that we continue on and finish the enemy. As we entered Cakyan Ghar Valley, the enemy opened up with what was to be SSG Falkel’s fifth and final encounter with this highly trained, numerically superior, and well equipped ACM force that we had been dealing with and pursuing for the past thirty hours. They opened up on our lead element as before with extraordinary volumes of machine gun, RPG and AK-47 fire. SSG Falkel rapidly spun his turret and gun while informing the rear gunner of our vehicle where the fire was coming from, and began to engage without care for his own life. His only concerns were for the care of his fellow team mates and trying to eliminate, or draw some of the fire from those machine gun positions that had our lead element pinned down. No sooner had SSG Falkel begun to engage the well emplaced enemy positions, when the rear gunner of our vehicle saw him slumped over his 50 cal. machine gun still orientated towards, and covering down on the ACM elements that were heavily engaging his team mates. It was later discovered that he had taken a single shot to the head. It is my belief that SSG Falkel was targeted by an ACM sniper due to his effectiveness during the four earlier enemy ambushes that accrued in the 34 hours prior. SSG Falkel willfully and voluntarily chose to serve in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM supporting his fellow soldiers, the legitimate Government of Afghanistan, and the United States of America in the global war on terror. The distinctive accomplishments of Staff Sergeant Falkel reflect great credit upon himself, the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan and the United States Army.

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