Junction soldier honored for bravery
Brett Krueger has a knack for walking on the wild side.
So it was not particularly surprising to his family that the 2002 Central High School graduate, now a U.S. Army Ranger, was the squad leader who helped bring down a senior al-Qaida operative, among other enemy combatants, in Iraq the night of Oct. 4.
“He’s a soldier’s soldier, there’s no doubt about that,” said Krueger’s grandfather, Ralph Krueger, from his Grand Junction home.
Staff Sgt. Brett Krueger, along with 11 other Rangers, was awarded the Bronze Star for valor during the operation, a dangerous attack in which Krueger’s best friend, Sgt. William
Rudd, was killed.
Krueger’s parents, Kim and Rick Krueger, attended the Feb. 27 ceremony in Georgia, where
Brett now is back on base at Fort Benning.
Krueger, 25, has completed six tours in Iraq and one tour in Afghanistan, 30 months total, since he enlisted in the Army in 2004. Deployments for Rangers, who are part of the Army’s Special Forces division, are about four months long.
“There were multiple insurgents who were killed,” Brett Krueger said by phone Friday. “We killed some bad guys. It actually was a good hit for international terrorism.”
Several of the Rangers, including Krueger, were presented with gold coins on behalf of Sweden’s government. The al-Qaida leader had trained in Afghanistan, had ties with leaders in Pakinstan and had founded a terror cell in Sweden.
Krueger is a member of B Company, 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
According to the Army, the members of the 3rd Battalion killed or captured 217 enemy combatants in a 100-day span. As a squad leader for a joint task force during a special operation on Oct. 4 and 5, Staff Sgt. Krueger led an assault using a hand grenade, killing a combatant who was firing at his group. Krueger killed three other combatants, one of whom attempted to detonate a suicide vest, the Army said in a release.
“His actions resulted in the destruction of enemy fighters and facilitated casualty evacuation, saving the lives of three wounded Rangers,” the release said.
Brett Krueger said he was pleased to have received the award, but he downplayed his role in the attack, though other soldiers told his parents that Brett’s actions were enormously courageous.
“It’s just something that you do,” Brett Krueger said.
He said violence in Iraq has decreased substantially since he was first deployed there.
After high school, Brett Krueger worked briefly in stints as an electrical lineman, as a coal miner and in landscaping before he joined the Army, his family said. He enjoyed climbing mountains and was known to rock climb up Independence Monument by moonlight.
Brett’s sense of adventure and his ability to act quickly in dangerous situations probably helped save the lives of his comrades during the October gunfight, said his father Rick Krueger.
“He put himself in danger to bring his buddies out,” he said, proudly.