Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Hero Among Us ~ Army Master Sgt Sarun Sar

Master Sargent Sarun Sar

Paktika Province, Afghanistan Master Sgt. Sar takes a break while conducting combat operations in Eastern Afghanistan. Sar and his team frequently conducted patrols along the snow covered mountains in Afghanistan. Photo from Sar's personal collection.

Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii - U. S. Army Master Sergeant Sarun Sar and his wife, Dobromila, receive applause after he was awarded the Silver Star during a ceremony here. Sar, a Special Forces combat veteran assigned to the Special Operations Command - Pacific, received the medal for heroism in a firefight while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Eastern Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Tim Meyer, U. S. Pacific Command Public Affairs

Navy Capt. Craig Powell, SOCPAC Deputy Commander, presents Master Sgt. Sarun Sar with two Bronze Star medals. One of the Bronze Star medals is for valor. The awards compliment a Silver Star that Sar received in January. All three awards were presented for his actions in combat in Afghanistan in 2005.

Head Monk Louk Ta Sau Veang, left, Master Sgt. Sarun Sar, center, and Phnom Penh monk Suosdey Sas asscss water depth in a village well built by the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club for impoverished villagers living in the Kampong Speu province. Photo: Allison Schaefers


Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but the story that goes with these pictures is worth a great deal more.

Meet U. S. Army Master Sergeant Sarun Sar.

Sarum Sar was born in Kampong Speou, Cambodia, in 1966. His father was a schoolteacher and his mother looked after the large rice farm and home and his brothers and sisters. Then war tore his family apart. The communist Khmer Rouge insurgency of the Pol Pot began the era we refer to as "the killing fields." This period is known for the executions and starvations that cost the lives of more than 3 million Cambodians.

Sar's father was arrested and sent to a prison camp, where he died from ailments of imprisonment. One of his brothers was executed. His mother and two younger brothers died the cruel death of starvation. Sar joined the anti-Vietnamese guerillas, was wounded several times in combat and was eventually sent to a refugee camp in Thailand to recover. There, Sar and his older sister and her two children were reunited.

They received a sponsorship from a church in Montgomery County, Maryland and came to the United States in 1981, where they lived with an American family.

Sar felt strongly that he should serve his adopted country and joined the Army in 1985, one year after high school graduation. A year later, he became a United States citizen. In 2003, he qualified as an Army Ranger, winning honors in his class. Between deployments, he earned a Bachelor's Degree in American History at Campbell University, North Carolina.

Sar has done two deployments to Afghanistan. He is currently on special assignment to the U. S. Embassy in Cambodia. Through the West Pearl Harbor Rotary Club, Sar is helping villages with water concerns and providing looms and training in weaving so that the women can make a living. "I want to do anything that I can to help these people. Most of them still know my family," Sar says of his work to assist the village.

As a soldier, a highly decorated soldier, in his 21 years in the Army, Sar has served in the Gulf War, in Bosnia and Kosovo, two combat tours in Afghanistan, but says, "it's a small price to pay for this country that I love more than my birthplace; this county that has given me so much."

"I am a soldier, so wherever they send me, I will go. The people at home only see what's being aired on their television screens. In Afghanistan, I saw that the civilians needed us - they were poor, they were afraid, and they wanted someone to protect them and their family," Sar said. Sar feels that the American public has heard only about the fighting in the war against terrorism and not enough about the work to achieve peace. "They should be proud of what their soldiers have done to overcome fear and win the hearts of these people." When he first arrived in Afghanistan "the people didn't talk to me. Towards the end they wanted me to marry one of their daughters so I could stay a little longer."

Master Sgt. Sarum Sar is a remarkable American and a true American hero!

To read more about him, a Google search will turn up many articles.
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