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Iowa Guard Soldier Receives More Recognition for Saving Lives

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MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa - An Iowa National Guard soldier received more recognition Monday for his heroic actions on a terrible day for the Iowa Guard last summer.

Sgt. First Class Terry Pasker and a soldier from Connecticut died last July when a rogue Afghan security officer opened fire on a small American unit.

That gunfire also wounded MSgt. Todd Eipperle of Marshalltown, but Eipperle returned fire and killed the attacker before he could harm others.

All this happened just days before that group of guard soldiers was scheduled to leave Afghanistan for home.

Eipperle is able to walk better now, but his recovery is still a work in progress. He was shot in the hip and knee and has yet to fully recovered.

While Eipperle appreciates the recognition he has received since last July, he sadly remembers that he could not save everyone.

"Everytime I get recognized, I continue to think of the two solders I was with," Eipperle said.

Eipperle received a Purple Heart and Bronze Star last month for his response that day.

For his actions, first District Rep. Bruce Braley said more Iowans should hear about Eipperle's heroism.

The Congressman arranged for a Monday morning ceremony at the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. He presented Eipperle with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol and a copy of a Congressional Record article noting his heroics.

"It's one of those stories you can't help but feel proud of your state...a state that produces people like Eipperle who respond when called upon without thinking of their own personal safety," Braley said.

Eipperle said he keeps in touch with the families of the two soldiers who died in the ambush—not only because they were fellow soldiers, but because they were also close friends.

Sgt. Pasker, of Cedar Rapids, was Eipperle's assistant in training Afghan police. Retired Connecticut State Trooper Paul Protzenko, the second soldier killed, was the expert consultant for the group of guard soldiers.

Following his recognition ceremony, Eipperle said at the time he didn't think about what to do, he simply reacted.

"I knew I had to go help the guys and as it happens, instincts just took over. It didn't come out the best, but it was possibly the best that could have happened (no more casualties) given the situation," Eipperle said.

The Bronze Star awarded to Eipperle for his actions is the U.S. Army's third highest decoration. Eipperle re-enlisted for six more years in the Iowa Guard while in Afghanistan.

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