Soldier Honored at State of the Union Address

By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2007 - An Army sergeant who was awarded the Silver Star for his valiant actions in Iraq was honored by President Bush at the annual State of the Union Address here tonight.

Sgt. Tommy Rieman, who is now an administrative assistant for the Army personnel office in the Pentagon, served with a reconnaissance squad in Iraq in 2003. When his team came under heavy insurgent fire near the Abu Ghraib prison Dec. 3, Rieman used his own body as a shield to protect his gunner, suffering two bullet wounds and 11 shrapnel wounds. He then led his team off the road, responded to a second insurgent attack, and called in a medical evacuation for his injured comrades.

For his actions that day, Rieman was awarded a Silver Star in August 2004 at Fort Bragg, N.C. Today, he was a guest of honor at the president's annual address to Congress.

"Like so many other Americans who have volunteered to defend us, he has earned the respect and gratitude of our whole country," Bush said after telling Rieman's story at the end of his speech. "In such courage and compassion, ladies and gentlemen, we see the spirit and character of America -- and these qualities are not in short supply."

In his address, Bush emphasized the importance of the war in Iraq to the global struggle against terrorism and called on members of Congress to support the troops who have served and will serve in the Middle East.

"For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them," Bush said.

Rieman was honored in a unique way in 2006 by being selected to be one of the first participants in the "America's Army: Real Heroes" program, which aims to honor soldiers who have shown heroism in the war on terror. Participants will have their lives and military stories recounted in "America's Army," the Army's video game for personal computers and console systems. The soldiers' likenesses are also being made into plastic action figures.

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