Silver Star Winner Reflects on Meaning of Red, White & Blue This Independence Day
Silver Star Winner Reflects on Meaning of Red, White & Blue This Independence Day ~ By Wendy Mitchell
Petty Officer Third Class Todd J. Angell, back center, along with 5 marines, raise the American flag in Afghanistan.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Todd Angell, left, a corpsman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, poses next to Cpl. Brandon Rumbaugh, right, a friend and fellow Marine whose life he helped save in Afghanistan.
“Freedom has its life in the hearts, the actions, the spirit of men and so it must be daily earned and refreshed – else like a flower cut from its life-giving roots, it will wither and die.” ~Dwight D. Eisenhower
For many Americans Independence Day means backyard barbecues, lighting off fireworks and or a day at the beach. But for 23-year-old Todd Angell it means so much more. ”People forget why we are free, why we can light fireworks and why we celebrate patriotic holidays,” Angell said. “But I will never forget,” he said, looking down at the 2 bracelets on his wrists with the names of two friends he lost. “I wear these every day and I will never forget.”
“Never Forget,” the sentiment that echoed in the days, months and years following September 11th attacks, is what inspired Angell to go into the Navy. “I was only 12-years-old when September 11th happened but I was old enough to understand that the enemy had invaded our soil and took the lives of so many and I knew then that I wanted to fight back,” he said.
One of those lives lost in the September 11th attacks was that of Christopher Blackwell of New Fairfield, a family relative through marriage and a 20-year firefighter. Assigned to Rescue Company 3 in the South Bronx, Blackwell was a specialist in collapsed buildings and died in the World Trade Center collapse while rescuing those trapped inside one of the towers.
Fighting for freedom is something Angell has done since entering the military at the age of 17. He recently received the Silver Star for valor as a Navy Corpsman who was deployed in Afghanistan with the Marines. According to the Military Times, Petty Officer Third Class Todd J. Angell, United States Navy, was presented with the Silver Star medal for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity against the enemy while serving as Corpsman, Weapons Company, First Battalion, Eighth Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, FIRST Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Afghanistan, from 12 October 2010 to 20 December 2010 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.” The article goes on to explain how Angell, while on patrol in the Musa Qala District, with complete disregard for his own personal safety, dashed across 500 meters in a mine field to reach a wounded Marine. He then administered life-saving first aid.
But that was not the only valiant act Angell accomplished. Angell risked his life on many more occasions to save others. In November of 2010 he treated an Afghan National Army soldier who stepped on an IED. Angell applied tourniquets to both of the soldier’s amputated legs, administered intravenous fluids and stabilized the soldier. As he was treating the soldier, an explosive ordnance disposal Marine working onsite also struck an IED, receiving minor blast injuries. After treating the three injured men and ensuring the safe evacuation of the soldier, a firefight broke out, resulting in a local resident being shot in the head. Angell treated the civilian promptly and saved his life.
Still, Angell wasn’t done yet. In December of 2010 he exercised his combat skills during a firefight by killing two insurgents at distances up to 400 meters and assisted in repelling the enemy’s assault. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Petty Officer Third Class Angell reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
A humble young man, Angell said: “I was honored to have received the award but I feel like there were a lot of guys who should have gotten awards too and would have done what I did. I just did my job.”
Like many returning veterans, seeing what he saw in combat has been difficult to deal with. Angell is thankful for the support of his family and friends as well as fellow veterans who support him. Bethel Marine Dan Gaita reached out to Angell after reading about him in the newspaper and has since been there to help. Recently launching a veterans’ fitness program called “Operation Vet Fit,” Gaita has been able to help returning veterans cope with the stress they experience through a free gym membership.
“I work out every day,” Angell said, “and it really helps. Whenever I am having a bad day it helps calm me down.”
Angell will begin his job as a police officer in the fall in Tampa, Florida. when asked why he wanted to move to Florida Angell said: “A combat veteran can’t just go back to everyday life after what we’ve been through. We need to be where the action is.”
And wherever the action is, Angell is ready and willing to serve. This Independence Day, and every day, Angell vows to never forget those who lives were lost and to remember the true meaning of the red, white and blue flag that symbolizes our nation’s freedom, for which he fought so bravely.