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UPDATE: Bronze Star awarded to Afghanistan war veteran

Posted: February 11, 2013 3:18 p.m.
Updated: February 11, 2013 6:12 p.m.

Kacey Surratt straightens the shoulder mark of her son, Army Capt. Gabriel Surratt, after he is promoted Monday during a ceremony in Newhall. Signal photo by Jonathan Pobre

Army Capt. Gabriel G. Surratt stood tall, straight and still as he was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal by Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon at the Newhall Veterans Historical Plaza in a special ceremony Monday.

McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, and Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar honored Surratt for his “exceptional meritorious service” in Afghanistan from March 2011 to October 2012.

As well as receiving one of the country’s more distinguished medals, the Castaic resident was officially promoted Monday from the rank of first lieutenant to captain.

After a brief flag presentation under sunny skies, McKeon pinned the medal on Surratt in front of an assembly of three dozen people, including Surratt’s sister and three brothers.

“You have a great career in just a short time,” McKeon told Surratt.

Kellar followed, saying: “We’re honored to have you as a member of our community.”

Then the solider who defended his country for two years in Afghanistan wasted no time thanking the people who helped make him who he is.

“I want to thank DaAnne Smith at Single Mothers Outreach,” he said. “Ma’am, your nonprofit has helped myself and other child from single-parent homes reach much further than we ever thought possible.”

Surratt moved to Castaic with his mother shortly before joining the U.S. Army.

With “very humble gratitude” he singled out others to thank — Vietnam veterans who attended his ceremony and the men with whom he was deployed.

“To the Vietnam vets in attendance: Gentlemen, thank you so much for coming out today,” he said. “When I speak with you, I speak as if talking to the generation that came before. And, gentlemen, I will always honor your sacrifice.”

Surratt then thanked the 3rd Special Forces group, 2nd Battalion, Alpha Company, Team 6.

“These are the men I was deployed with in Afghanistan,” he said.

“We spent 11 months, through a very trying ordeal. And I can say, on behalf of my mother and myself, thank you for bringing me back alive.

“The bonds we forged I will cherish for a lifetime.”

Then he thanked his mother.

“She allowed me to deploy to two combat zones for two years,” he told the group. “I know it was difficult for her — especially when I came back and tried to assimilate into a world I basically missed for two years.

“On behalf of all service members, to our mothers we say ‘thank you.’ You are a large part of why we do what we do.”

Surratt served in the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan.

A native Californian and graduate of Phillips Exeter Academy and Vanderbilt University, Surratt was assigned to the deputy chief of staff at Army headquarters in the Pentagon.

Surratt closed with advice for parents contemplating a military life for a child.

“For future service members and their mothers contemplating whether or not they want them to go into harm’s way for their country, I would only offer, if you allow them to go, the military will turn them not only into better Americans but better people.”
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt






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