Embassy Decorates Two U.S. Soldiers for Recent Service
Among the six recipients of medals awarded to French and U.S. soldiers at the French embassy the evening of October 4, two U.S. officers stood among those honored.
Lieutenant Commander Kyle Caldwell, U.S. Navy, was bestowed France’s Silver Medal of National Defense. Major Bowe Averill, U.S. Army, was given the Afghanistan Commemorative Medal.
Occurring during the French embassy’s annual joint forces conference, the event saw robust attendance from French military personnel from all branches, as well as U.S. officers and staff from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Department of Defense, National Defense University and the Pentagon.
In an interview following the decoration, Lt. Cmdr. Caldwell described his work aboard France’s aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, with words of praise. "The young French sailors are very intelligent, and easy to teach," he said.
His time on the Charles de Gaulle included action during Operation Harmattan, France’s 13-day aerial campaign over Libya in March 2011. French Rafale and Mirage airplanes enforced a no-fly zone that proved a crucial element to defeating the military operations defending the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
Lt. Cmdr. Caldwell’s three-year mission as a consultant providing guidance for the vessel’s catapults and arresting gear systems, was "difficult in the beginning." The officer had to learn French aboard, but enjoyed ultimately a positive experience. He expressed his hope to return to France in the future, as a liaison officer at the Maritime Prefecture, coordinating U.S. ship visits to France’s ports on the Mediterranean coast.
Maj. Averill likewise said he felt "extremely proud" to be recognized for contributing to the French-American military relationship in Afghanistan in the framework of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a NATO stabilization program.
France’s resources are concentrated in Afghanistan’s Kapisa region, with a current troop contribution of 2,450.
Please see here for photos of the medal ceremony.