His nickname is Griz.
During his two-year deployment in the Shindand district of Afghanistan, 1st Lt. (P) Ryan Babcock led efforts to give local residents ways to make a sustainable living.
Modeling the project after U.S. efforts in the early 1900s, Babcock helped establish an agricultural station on 40 acres of farmland, including 30 acres of grapes and eight acres of fruit orchards. He also developed a fish hatchery, a beekeeping operation, a greenhouse and a 19-mile irrigation canal from the mountains.
"Captain Babcock’s projects were innovative in that they sought to provide long-term economic stability to the area,” Lt. Col. Leon B. Altman said.
Babcock also worked on other projects including roadwork, mosque repairs, schools, a vet clinic and a carpet factory.
“Captain Babcock quickly placed himself in the shoes of the populace that he served,” Altman wrote.
Babcock didn’t think he had enough time for everything he wanted to accomplish, so he volunteered to extend his deployment an extra year in Afghanistan, said Brian O’Malley, a former captain who served with Babcock.
Awards for Babcock’s work included the Bronze Star and awards from Afghanistan’s Minister of Reconstruction.
On April 18, 2008, Camp Victory was again attacked, and rockets struck a soccer field where children were playing. Holden managed efforts to help numerous children who needed medical care.
Since arriving at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in Texas, Holden has continued lifesaving efforts. Last year, Holden and his wife witnessed a soldier flip his motorcycle while on the interstate. While his wife dialed 911, Holden resuscitated the soldier, who has since made a full recovery.
During his time in Iraq, Holden gained a reputation for planning fun for the troops, including several sports teams and parties. For Halloween, he spent hundreds of dollars on pumpkins. For Christmas, he dressed up as Santa.
“No one is more dedicated to serving this country or to the welfare of soldiers,” Capt. Lisa Phillips said in nominating Holden.