Fallen soldier receives Silver Star for Battle of Ganjgal - WLTZ 38 | Columbus Georgia Regional News & Community

Fallen soldier receives Silver Star for Battle of Ganjgal

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By Sara Belsole

COLUMBUS, GA - When the Army told Charlene Westbrook her late husband was to receive a Silver Star, one word came to mind.

"Finally."

Finally Sergeant Kenneth Westbrook will be recognized for his bravery during the Battle of Ganjgal in 2009. While working as an advisor to the Afghan Boarder Police, his unit was ambushed by Taliban troops. Westbrook ran into a hail of enemy bullets and grenades to return fire.

"Literally there were only four of five guys from our side that were firing and he was one, and that kept the enemy up on the ridges," Jonathan Landay, an embed reporter for McClatchy Newspapers, says.

Landay helped the wounded Westbrook onto a medevac helicopter.

"The bullet was buried in his right cheek and had gone through his left shoulder," Landay says.

Four were killed that day and Westbrook died from his wounds a month later.

The battle is remembered as one of the most controversial in the War in Afghanistan because the command post initially rejected calls for air support. The battle resulted in two Medal of Honor nominations, two Navy Crosses, eight Bronze Stars and nine Purple Hearts, and two army officers received letters of reprimand and dereliction of duty.

And now, three and a half years later, a Silver Star.

"It was a very frustrating experience so it's a long time coming and I am very proud of my husband," Charlene says.

Westbrook completed basic training and advanced individual training at Fort Benning, and after 22 years of service, had planned to retire when he returned from Afghanistan.

"He's my hero. And he would probably grimace and say no, I am not a hero, I'm just doing my job," Charlene says.

Westbrook is also survived by his three sons. His brother, Sergeant Marshall Westbrook, was killed in 2005 in a bomb explosion in Baghdad.
 

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