Silver Star Recipient: “It’s Not About Awards; It’s About People”

Personal bravery – aka, valor – is something we all hope to have in times of need. When service members get recognized for it, it’s usually a big deal that’s the outcome of some major career-defining event.

But at the end of the day, almost all recipients of awards for valor say they weren’t searching for recognition when they did what they did to earn the accolade – they did it because it was their job.

Utah Army National Guard Maj. Tyler Jensen is no exception.


“We ended up in a three-sided ambush with well over 100 enemy fighters shooting at us,” Jenson said, recalling when he and other Special Forces soldiers were caught in a firefight Jan. 27, 2007, while mentoring Afghan National Army troops during Operation Enduring Freedom.

A first lieutenant at the time, Jensen quickly realized the severity of the situation. Putting his own life in danger, he rallied Afghan soldiers caught in the direct line of fire to act, and he saved a wounded soldier. His leadership, combat skills and courage helped to keep the insurgents from overrunning his patrol.

Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. pins the Silver Star on 1st Lt. Tyler J. Jensen, 19th Special Forces Group, Utah National Guard, during a ceremony June 19, 2008, in Draper, Utah. Photo by Ileen Kennedy

“I wasn’t really thinking about myself. I was just thinking, ‘We’re in a bad situation. We’re bogged down, and we’ve gotta figure out a way to get out of this,’” Jensen said. “I saw an absence of command at that point and took charge … to try to save lives.”

For his actions, he earned the Silver Star – the military’s third-highest personal decoration for valor. It’s something he never expected because for him, his work isn’t about awards. It’s about people.

“My personal reason for serving is because of my family. I feel an obligation to protect them, an obligation to provide them a way of life and hopefully keep the fight, the …. nastiness that unfortunately is sometimes in this world – away from them,” he said.

That desire to protect comes into play in combat, too.

“When you’re on the battlefield, that [sentiment] becomes more entangled,” Jensen said. “You start serving for the brothers in arms next to you – worrying about their safety and worrying about how to help them in certain situations.”

Valor isn’t always recognized or rewarded, but it happens all the time, he said.

“I think there’s valor all around us in everything we do, not only on the battlefield but also in our daily lives,” he explained.  “From those that help out with charities or organizations … or just even daily in helping out with family and kids and bringing them to school. There are a lot of courageous people out there who do a lot of things that aren’t recognized, but maybe should be.”

Well said, Major Jensen!

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