A former Fort Riley soldier will be awarded the military’s second highest valor decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross.
According to Fort Riley, former Sgt. Robert “Mike” Debolt, previously received the Silver Star for his actions in 2008 in Afghanistan. A ceremony this week will officially upgrade that previous award. The Army ordered the upgrade after the completion of a comprehensive, year-long Military Decorations and Awards Review, which was ordered by then Sec. of Def. Ash Carter.
The Distinguished Service Cross is the military’s second highest valor decoration and is awarded for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. This is the first DSC the awarded to a 1st Inf. Div. Soldier since the Vietnam War over 40 years ago, and only 43 have been awarded in the military since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001.
Debolt entered into the United States Army on Aug. 27, 2007, from Gahanna, Ohio. He deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom in 2008 with 3rd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. He was awarded the Silver Star on May 28, 2009, for his actions on Sept. 4, 2008. After recovering from his wound, he returned to his unit in March 2009. He was honorably discharge from the Army on Sept. 28, 2008.
The narration for Debolt’s Silver Star reads in part:
… for gallantry in action on 4 September 2008, while serving as an infantry rifleman assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. After his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device and became engulfed in flames, Pvt. Debolt extracted himself and extinguished the flames covering more than half of his body. Realizing that his teammates were still trapped inside the burning wreckage, and ignoring his own extensive wounds and the continued enemy small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire directed at his vehicle, he helped to pull his teammates from the vehicle to safety while extinguishing their burning clothing. Debolt fought through his own blinding pain, refusing to leave his teammates until he himself was nearly incapacitated from his own wounds and shock. His actions at the start of a concerted enemy ambush helped save the life of one of his fellow soldiers while helping to prevent serious injury to another. Debolt’s courage under fire is in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, Task Force RAMROD, the Combined Joint Task Force-101, and the United States Army.
Debolt currently resides in the Zanesville, Ohio, where he owns and manages a barbershop.