25th ID’s Westbrook receives highest peacetime medal

| October 16, 2015 | 0 Comments
Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook receives the Soldier's Medal from Brig. Gen. Patrick Matlock, the  25th Infantry Division's deputy commanding general-Support, during a ceremony at Weyand Field, Oct. 7. Westbrook received the prestigious medal for his heroic actions during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting April 2, 2014. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook receives the Soldier’s Medal from Brig. Gen. Patrick Matlock, the 25th Infantry Division’s deputy commanding general-Support, during a ceremony at Weyand Field, Oct. 7. Westbrook received the prestigious medal for his heroic actions during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting April 2, 2014. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Pfc. Holli Cook
25th Sustainment Brigade Public Affairs
25th Infantry Division

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — A Human Resource Soldier assigned to the 25th Special Troops Battalion, 25th Sustainment Brigade, received the Army’s highest noncombat medal, Oct. 7, at Weyand Field.

Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook was presented the Soldier’s Medal by the 25th Infantry Division’s deputy commanding general-Support, Brig. Gen. Patrick Matlock.

The 25th Sust. Bde. commander, Col. Gavin Lawrence, spoke of Westbrook’s heroics that day and feels that it’s noncommissioned officers like Westbrook who make the Army the best in the world.

Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook displays the Soldier's Medal after being present the medal by the 25th Infantry Division's deputy commanding general-Support, Brig. Gen. Patrick Matlock, during a ceremony at Weyand Field, Oct. 7. Westbrook received the prestigious medal for his heroic actions during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting April 2, 2014. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

Sgt. Jonathan Westbrook displays the Soldier’s Medal after being present the medal by the 25th Infantry Division’s deputy commanding general-Support, Brig. Gen. Patrick Matlock, during a ceremony at Weyand Field, Oct. 7. Westbrook received the prestigious medal for his heroic actions during the Fort Hood, Texas, shooting April 2, 2014. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew G. Ryan, 25th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

“He epitomizes all that is great about our NCO Corps,” said Lawrence. “Westbrook is a leader of character that can be counted upon in the most adverse of circumstances. We are very fortunate to have him within our ranks.”

Matlock spoke to the 25th Special Troops Bn. Soldiers in attendance about the medal and Westbrook, saying how much of an honor it was to be able to present the medal and how he never expected he would get the chance to present one to a Soldier, let alone one with a story quite like Westbrook’s.

Westbrook was assigned to the 49th Movement Control Battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, when a fellow Soldier opened fire on him and several other members of his unit, April 2, 2014.

“Before the shooting, I had a conversation with him,” said Westbrook of the Soldier that opened fire that day. “I wish I could have talked to him a little more.”

Westbrook explained that if he could do it over again, he would have tried to talk to that Soldier more and feels that if he had given it more time, he could have persuaded him to change his mind. It was after that conversation with the Soldier, and after the Soldier left and came back, that the shooting began.

Shortly thereafter, Westbrook and his colleagues would be in a fight for their lives.

According to a Jan. 23, 2015, article on Army.mil, the shooting that took place there left four people dead and 12 wounded. The shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez-Lopez, took his own life after being confronted by a military police officer.

During the attack, Westbrook had barricaded the door with a desk to help protect and provide some cover for his supervisor and his Soldier who were with him in the room as the shooting started.

“I didn’t want to see my NCOIC and my Soldier die right in front of me,” said Westbrook. “I pretty much did what I had to do to make sure we would all stay alive.”

The Soldier's Medal

The Soldier’s Medal

Despite taking two rounds from Lopez-Lopez’s gun to his chest and one to the arm, Westbrook said he used training that every Soldier is taught throughout their military career. Little did he know the training he received would be used in a real-world situation and end up saving himself, his noncommissioned officer in charge, and his Soldier.

“My NCOIC, and my Soldier and I were under fire from Lopez that day, and we all had gunshot wounds,” said Westbrook. “I pretty much did buddy aid on my Soldier and NCOIC while calling 911 to receive medical help. While on the phone with 911, I was directing my Soldier on how to do self-aid. I didn’t know I was shot twice in the chest. I only knew about being shot once in the arm.”

More than a year has passed for Westbrook since that fateful day. After being presented the Soldier’s Medal for his actions that day, Westbrook said he feels very humbled to accept such a special medal.

“It’s a very prestigious award for acts of heroism. It means a lot to be recognized by the Army, and they really appreciate all that I have done,” said Westbrook. “By it being the highest medal to receive during peacetime and to receive it is truly an honor, and it means a lot to me.”

Westbrook expresses how this day will forever be with him and impact his decisions.

“I feel I am truly meant to be here; I didn’t think I was going to make it through that day,” he said. “I have a purpose for living. I’m going to figure it out, and I’m going to continue on.”

The Soldier’s Medal is the highest honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a noncombat situation, equal to or greater than the level that would justify a Distinguished Flying Cross if the act had occurred in combat.

Notable recipients include Colin Powell, who rescued his comrades from the wreckage of a helicopter crash in Vietnam, and personnel who risked their lives to assist comrades in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

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