The Bronze Star Medal is the fourth highest individual military award.
It may be awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with a Valor, or V, device.
The soldiers are both squad leaders with Company A, 4-3 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Morse, a heavy equipment operator who volunteered to also serve as a combat engineer, and Wagner, a Tucson, Ariz., native, are responsible for leading dismounted patrols to find and clear improvised explosive devices and other explosive hazards along eastern Afghanistan’s Highway 1 and other main supply routes.
Morse’ actions on May 20 and Wagner’s actions on May 23 were nearly identical.
They were both in charge of dismounted troops responsible for clearing a road as they escorted supply convoys between two U.S. bases in northern Wardak.
“All of our missions are pretty much the same,” Morse said in a statement, “but, we have our certain areas throughout the route where we take contact, whether it’s IEDs or small arms fire. We just happened to walk into a bad situation.”
On May 23, Morse’s actions saved the life of a heavy equipment operator like himself.
One of his soldiers sustained a gunshot wound to the leg and was unable to get back up.
Morse moved to his soldier’s position, still under fire, and applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding.
He placed himself between the enemy and the wounded soldier, returned fire and prevented him from going into shock.
“It felt like an eternity,” Morse said about waiting for support.
A vehicle soon arrived and provided additional cover and suppressive fire, allowing Morse and the platoon’s medic to move the injured soldier to a safer place and render further medical aid.
Morse continued to keep the soldier safe until a helicopter arrived to evacuate the injured soldier.
“I did what I thought any of our guys would have done,” Morse said. “Just doing our job.”