Meet this Army captain, recently presented with Bronze Star Medal after deployment during pandemic

‘We had to fight an enemy that we could not see’

Soldiers (Provided by Maximillian Boudreaux)

How familiar are you with what military members do, day in and day out?

On this Veterans Day, meet Capt. Damien Woodbury.

Of course, all military members deserve our recognition for voluntarily raising a hand and going to bat for our country and our freedom. But today, one soldier in particular deserves an extra tip of the cap: Woodbury.

Capt. Damien Woodbury is at center. (Provided by Maximillian Boudreaux)

Amid the uncertain times that go hand in hand with a global pandemic, Woodbury was sent overseas. In fact, he just recently returned home. Despite the circumstances of his deployment, he still managed to receive one of the highest military honors while in Iraq: The Bronze Star.

The star is the fourth-highest award a service member can receive.

It’s presented to soldiers who exemplify heroic or meritorious achievement on a mission.

Woodbury did just that when he went on an assignment as an officer in charge of the Advise, Enable and Assist mission.

“The mission is to help sustain logistics and maintenance support operations in Iraq -- more so to help the Iraqi Army sustain themselves,” Woodbury said.

He set out on the mission to help support the Iraqi people in their logistical efforts while also teaching them how to keep their own logistical team together.

“We got the Bronze Star for the work that we did and the mission that we had in Iraq. It wasn’t only me. It was the support of my team that enabled me to obtain that Bronze Star,” Woodbury said. “It’s just the leaps and bounds we made with the Iraqis in order for them to sustain themselves."

Often, when soldiers are on a mission, they don’t really expect to learn anything about the country they’re in. They set out to conduct the mission and safely return home to their loved ones.

However, Woodbury took much more from his assignment.

“I found out that the Iraqis want the same thing that we want -- a better life for themselves and (a) future for their children, and to be raised in a better environment than they have now, so it was very interesting," he said.

What made Woodbury’s deployment unique in comparison to any other was not only the mission in Iraq, but that Woodbury’s unit was fighting a war against COVID-19, something they were never trained to handle before they left the country.

“Being deployed during a pandemic added some extra stressors to our job,” Woodbury said. “Not only were we in a combat theater, but we had to fight an enemy that we could not see, so now we’re taking extra precaution for something we can’t account for.”

Because of the hurdles Woodbury faced head-on during his mission, he has been recognized for his sacrifice, bravery and honor.

Thank you, Capt. Woodbury, and all the other military members who serve the country.