Awarded: Silver Star
Straight out of basic training, then-Spc. Sanders deployed to
Iraq in 2003 in the early stages of the conflict--but it was not until April 4,
2004, that he faced his greatest challenge on the battlefield.
A platoon of 20
men was trapped deep within Sadr City, which was in the midst of an uprising.
Sgt. Sanders’s tank crew and two others from his unit were called to aid the
The first two attempts failed, and during the second, Sgt.
Sanders took a bullet through his left shoulder. Sanders waved the medics away,
and instead hopped on another tank for a third rescue attempt, one which pushed
through numerous firefights and impromptu roadblocks, such as burning tires and
washing machines, to reach the stranded men.
Sanders told the Chicago Tribune later, “All I needed was a
Band-Aid.” Because Sanders’s unit had previously been scheduled for transport,
the tanks were carrying a minimum load of ammunition. At one point Sanders ran
out of ammo and resorted to throwing rocks and anything else he could find at
the enemy. Sanders was awarded the Silver Star in October 2004.