Taliban fighters poured machine gun fire on Army Sgt. First Class Bryn Reynolds' position, destroying the building where he and his fellow soldiers sought cover during a mission to try to rescue two captured military personnel.
They needed air support to escape the attack, so Reynolds climbed to the top of the remnants of the walled village known as a qalat, exposing himself to fire as he marked the building to friendly aircraft for an attack.
The situation for his unit worsened and the Taliban closed within meters, Reynolds and his fellow soldiers fighting them off with machine guns, rifles and hand grenades.
The wall that Reynolds used for protection atop the building was all but destroyed by enemy fire, but Reynolds remained on top of it to continue to call in air support during the two-hour firefight.
"With enemy bullets impacting close enough to spray pieces of a qalat wall into his face, he engaged multiple targets at close range with his M4 (rifle) and eventually attacked the enemy with two hand grenades, driving off the squad-sized element closing on his position," an Army captain wrote of the firefight.
People are also reading…
The battle description reads like the script of a Hollywood war movie, but Reynolds lived it July 29 in Logar province in northeastern Afghanistan.
The Saratoga Springs resident, who works as a captain for the Washington County Sheriff's Office, received a Bronze Star with "V Device" for valor for his actions during the firefight. The Bronze Star is the fourth highest combat award the Army gives for bravery. Reynolds was part of a Vermont National Guard unit that spent more than a year in Afghanistan, his second deployment in recent years.
When the fight ended, Reynolds learned he had torn one of his Achilles tendons. He and his unit still managed to march out to be removed from the battlefield.
"His personal bravery in refusing to leave his position under heavy enemy attack was highly valorous and instrumental to the troop's success," reads a narrative put out by the Army detailing why Reynolds was given the award.
A quiet man, Reynolds seemed hesitant to talk about his actions in combat. (His co-workers contacted The Post-Star about his award.)
"We had a lot of bad days over there," he said.
He said he was happy to be home and ready to resume his police career, and was happy to be with his family again.
His wife Debbie gave birth to twins, a boy named Tyler and a girl named Brooke, while he was overseas.
He said the social networking website Facebook was invaluable in keeping up with his family, although access to the Internet came only every few weeks.
He had seen the babies just once when he was home on leave before his deployment ended earlier this
Reynolds got a surprise in late November when the Today show visited his base in Afghanistan around Thanksgiving. He didn't know that producers had set it up so he would be able to see his wife and children through a video link as the show was broadcast.
"That was a big surprise," he said.
He will return to work as a sheriff's captain in early January, happy to trade in a Humvee that traversed the mountains of Afghanistan for a Crown Victoria patrol car to ride the roads of Washington County.
His co-workers are happy to have him back in one piece.
"It's just amazing what he went through over there. It's like a movie," said sheriff's Lt. Jeff Tucker. "We're just glad he's back."
For the full narrative of the battle for which Reynolds was awarded the Bronze Star, click on www.poststar.com.