By MAUREEN ROSE
Gold Standard Acting Editor
“A high five would have been good enough,” said retired 1st Sgt. Denis Viau quietly to a friend standing nearby.
Viau was referring to the award ceremony in his honor.
On Friday, a group of about 50 Soldiers and Army civilians gathered in the Fort Knox Garrison Command conference room to witness the honoring of an American Soldier who received the Bronze Star with Valor device for his actions in combat.
In 2004, then-Sgt. 1st Class Denis Viau was serving in Iraq with the 502nd Infantry Regiment when it came under heavy attack from enemy small arms, rocket-propelled grenades, automatic weapons and indirect fire. Viau calmly directed the counter attack while placing himself at risk. He moved from vehicle to vehicle to monitor the status of his troops after the initial attack was repulsed. However, in a second wave, Viau was critically wounded, although he continued to fight until all enemy personnel were neutralized.
Col. T.J. Edwards, the Fort Knox garrison commander, told the group, “We are witnessing a hero getting an award today; in my 23 years of service, I’ve never given one with valor device.”
Once the medal was pinned to his chest, Viau responded, “I’ve been called a hero too much; the real hero is my wife who was there with me 24/7 at Walter Reed (Medical Center).”
Edwards added, “I don’t think Fort Knox or our country can thank him enough.”
Viau said he was grateful that his last senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Wagner with 3rd Battalion, 81st Armored Regiment out of Fort Benning, Ga., attended the ceremony.
“Having Command Sgt. Maj. Wagner as my last sergeant major was a huge blessing,” Viau said.
He then thanked all others who attended, and expressed his surprise that so many people gathered for him. He told the organizers in advance that he didn’t want a big ceremony or a lot of fuss.
“A high five would have been good enough,” he said.