News | July 25, 2013

Wounded U.S. veteran receives Canadian award

By Sgt. Fredrick Coleman , CENTCOM Public Affairs

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Retired U.S. Army Master. Sgt. Richard Cicero received a Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Commendation medal during a ceremony presided over by Marine Maj. Gen. William Beydler, director of U.S. Central Command’s Plans and Policies Directorate, and Canadian Defence Forces Col. Paul Keddy, Canadian senior national representative to USCENTCOM, here July 23.

“It’s a unique privilege to be asked by our Chief of Defence Staff in Canada to extend our nation’s deepest appreciation to Richard Cicero,” said Keddy.

Cicero, who served as a military contractor working with improvised explosive device detection dogs, earned the award for his actions during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2010 when he saved an injured Canadian soldier. Despite enemy fire, Cicero took life-saving steps to care for the Canadian soldier who lost his leg in the blast and then secure the landing zone for the casualty evacuation. Cicero later lost his right arm and leg in a separate IED blast.

“You’re brothers in arms of the Oscar Company Combat Team and especially the Combat Engineers of Echo 33D thank you for your brave and selfless actions on July 31, 2010. Your tenacity in the face of the enemy and unwavering loyalty to a teammate in his time of need are a credit to you and in keeping with the military traditions of both our countries,” said his Canadian section commander in a quote read by Keddy during the ceremony.

Cicero credits his training which taught him to respond in dangerous situations.

“To me, the word ‘hero’ is overdone. To me, I will always just be ‘doing my job’ during this time,” said Cicero. “To be recognized for those actions is an overwhelming honor to be up here today receiving this award.  I’m up here today to make sure the folks who do this job every day are recognized for what they are doing because so often they aren’t.”

Cicero, a Weeki Wachee, Fla., resident worked as the senior canine trainer for the Virginia State Police Department following his retirement from the Army.  He became a military contractor in 2007.

Cicero currently serves as a volunteer with the Wounded Warrior Program at the Tampa Veterans Affairs hospital.