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down the rocky slope to find cover.

He kept his composure against overwhelming odds, directing and encouraging his fellow Soldiers under heavy fire. One paratrooper had been shot in both legs and was still taking fire.

Begaye called out to him to play dead, knowing the enemy would shift their fire away if they thought the Soldier was killed — quick thinking that likely helped save that Soldier's life.

Ignoring his own injuries, Begaye moved a wounded Soldier to a nearby cave to protect him from enemy fire. Using a radio, he called his higher headquarters and directed mortar fire onto enemy positions — essentially ending the battle. Then he motivated a S oldier to organize a defensive perimeter of Afghan Soldiers to prevent their unit from being harassed or overrun.

Twenty-one months later, with his comrades standing quietly on the parade ground behind him, Begaye listened as Garrett spoke.

"Today, we honor a noncommissioned officer whose bold actions turned the tide of battle and saved the day ... whose courage under fire and fierce loyalty to his men still astounds us all," Garrett said.

"Outnumbered, wounded, and initially pinned down in the kill zone of an enemy ambush — he didn't hesitate to leap forward, literally, and take charge of the fight."

Begaye, a Navajo from Black Canyon City, Ariz., enlisted in the infantry 10 years ago. An airborne ranger, Begaye arrived in Vicenza in 2003. He deployed for year-long tours with Chosen Company to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2005. In 2007, he deployed to Afghanistan's Nuristan Province with Chosen. — Capt. Joseph Sanfilippo, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment Ffliro

Having just fastened a Silver Star on the uniform of Staff Sgt. Conrad Begaye fright) from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Maj. Ben. William B. Barrett III, commander of US Army Africa, shakes Begaye's hand during a ceremony witnessed by his comrades. Capt. Joseph Sanfilippo, 2nd Bat, 503rd Inf Reg.

Having just fastened a Silver Star on the uniform of Staff Sgt. Conrad Begaye fright) from 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Maj. Ben. William B. Barrett III, commander of US Army Africa, shakes Begaye's hand during a ceremony witnessed by his comrades. Capt. Joseph Sanfilippo, 2nd Bat, 503rd Inf Reg.

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