Local soldier receives nation’s second-highest military award

By: Julie Snyder | Mount Clemens - Clinton - Harrison Journal | Published June 14, 2019

 U.S. Army Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Frank Muth presents Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Waters with the Distinguished Service Cross during a June 5 ceremony at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Waters received the medal for heroism in Afghanistan in 2008.

U.S. Army Recruiting Command Maj. Gen. Frank Muth presents Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Waters with the Distinguished Service Cross during a June 5 ceremony at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Waters received the medal for heroism in Afghanistan in 2008.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Members of Waters’ family, including parents Jeffrey and Debbie Waters, sister Bethany Waters, and wife Jill Waters, watch as he’s presented with the Distinguished Service Cross — the second-highest military medal a soldier can receive.

Members of Waters’ family, including parents Jeffrey and Debbie Waters, sister Bethany Waters, and wife Jill Waters, watch as he’s presented with the Distinguished Service Cross — the second-highest military medal a soldier can receive.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A Macomb County soldier who served as a medic in Afghanistan had his Silver Star Medal upgraded to a Distinguished Service Cross for his heroism during active duty.

Sgt. 1st Class Gregory Waters, a native of Indianapolis. who now serves as an Army recruiting station commander in Eastpointe, received the honor during a ceremony at Selfridge Air National Guard Base on June 5.

Waters was deployed to Afghanistan as a medic with the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, when on July 30, 2008, an improvised explosive device detonated, causing massive damage to the vehicle he and his fellow soldiers were traveling in — leaving him and the other soldiers either injured or unconscious.

According to U.S. Army personnel, instead of running for cover after the explosion, then-Spc. Waters ignored his own injuries and engaged the enemy while dragging three injured soldiers from the vehicle to safety. Under intense enemy fire, Waters provided cover for the rest of his platoon until air support arrived, stabilized the injured soldiers, and continued to engage the enemy while directing the medical evacuation.

Once the enemy was suppressed, Waters stabilized his wounded colleagues, then returned to the destroyed vehicle under heavy fire to re-engage the enemy.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, who leads the U.S. Army Recruiting Command, presented the Distinguished Service Cross to Waters during the ceremony. It is the second-highest military medal a soldier can receive, just below the Medal of Honor.

“People who don’t understand sacrifice or commitment to service may think Sgt. 1st Class Waters was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Muth. “I believe he was in the right place at the right time. His decision to join the Army ensured he was right where he needed to be when he was needed. His skills and training enabled him to maintain his composure and get his fellow soldiers to safety that day, saving their lives.”

Waters, who enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2003 as a way to pay for art school, said he was “humbled” by the honor, but insisted that he was simply doing his job.

“I was a medic, and I did my job taking care of wounded soldiers,” he said. “I would not have changed anything. Someone had to be in that seat. If I wasn’t me, I would be putting someone else in harm’s way.”

While a soldier in the reserves, Waters took classes and worked for home construction and rock climbing companies. Eventually, though, he transitioned to active duty and moved to Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

According to a press release from the U.S. Army, Waters’ parents are both Air Force veterans. In addition, his sister currently serves as a military policewoman.

“My dad always told me that if you’re going to do something, do it right, and if you tell someone you’re going to do something, do it,” Waters said in the release. “I told him that I was going to be a good medic, so I did it, and I just applied that to the rest of my life.”

In 2013, Waters transitioned from an Army combat medic to an Army recruiter.

“As a recruiter, I tell worried parents that their child will always have someone to look after them,” Waters said. “If your child doesn’t show up for work, there will be an entire team of soldiers sent out to find them, just like you would do if they didn’t show up for dinner. We are a family, and we take care of our own.”

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