Lloyd Waters: Mt. Briar lad defined courage

July 15, 2012|By LLOYD WATERS

Andrew Jackson once observed that “one man with courage makes a majority.”

Scott Fales grew up in a house on the poor side of the railroad tracks in Mt. Briar.  Not too different from a lot of people in South County. But from those humble beginnings, he learned those valuable and important lessons of God, family and country.

Somewhere along the way Scott also developed an intimate relationship with courage, care for his fellow man, and the beauty and synchronization of belonging to a team.

Scott attended Boonsboro High School and while there excelled in running. According to sources he was a fierce competitor. This competitive edge would serve him well throughout his life.

Upon graduation in 1976, he married Kathy Elliott and made a decision in 1977 to enter the U.S. Air Force to support his family. What is so unique about Scott Fales?

In a recent ceremony in Tampa, Fla., Fales was awarded the U.S. Special Operations’ highest award when he was presented the “Bull” Simons award for 2012.

This award is named after Arthur David “Bull” Simons.  For those of you who don’t remember “Bull” Simons, he had a most honorable career as a Ranger, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by President Nixon. At the request of Ross Perot, he undertook the mission to successfully rescue two of Perot’s kidnapped employees from Iran in 1979.

Simons’ valor, courage, and tenacity were unsurpassed. This award is most prestigious in the military world.

For Scott Fales to be honored with this achievement, his actions, too, must have been nothing short of phenomenal.

As you review his credentials of valor, you will be proud to know that you once rubbed shoulders with him here in Washington County.

After a short stint as an MP in the Air Force, Scott volunteered to become a pararescue jumper, or a PJ for short. Strenuous physical requirements were required, as this elite group not only jumped from airplanes and roped down from helicopters, but were required to swim and have an extensive knowledge of medical protocols.

The primary purpose of the PJ was to rescue people. These units existed “that others might live.” Scott was involved in his first combat mission in 1989, when he was assigned to take control of the Torios-Tacuman airport in Panama during the removal of Manuel Noriega.

On Oct. 3 and 4, 1993, Fales found himself in Mogadishu, Somalia, on a more serious mission. After a Super 6-1 Blackhawk helicopter was shot down, Fales’ responsibility, along with his fellow PJ Tim Wilkerson, was to drop by rope and render medical assistance and rescue of the pilot and crew in the downed aircraft.

While the two men were proceeding down the rope, their helicopter was hit by hostile fire and forced to leave the area, as Fales and Wilkerson landed.

The American forces were surrounded by heavy hostile fire, and Fales provided cover fire and medical treatment to those on the ground. In the midst of this rescue mission, Fales himself was shot in the leg and had to administer an IV to avoid going into shock. He received the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroics.

Scott’s valor and demonstrated courage made him a deserving candidate for the “Bull” Simons award.

You can teach a lot of things to a recruit in the military.  Courage, however, I suspect lies deep within one’s soul, and rises to the occasion when humankind needs it the most. Scott Fales has such courage.

Our county and country owe Scott Fales a big thank you for all the sacrifices he and his family have made in showing to us the true worth of mankind.

Scott currently lives in Fayetteville, N.C., with his wife, Kathy. They have three children -Daniel, Kimberly and Jeremy - who are most proud of their dad. And so am I.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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