Master Sgt. Steven Corely of the 20th Special Forces Group was awarded the Purple Heart for action in northwest Africa in January 2022. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jasmonet Holmes, April 8, 2022.
In a rare public recognition of U.S. special operations forces in Africa, Master Sgt. Steven Corley, an intelligence noncommissioned officer with 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), was awarded the Purple Heart during a ceremony in Stuttgart, Germany, April 8, 2022.
The Purple Heart medal is one of the U.S. military’s oldest medals dating back to 1782. It recognizes military members who were wounded or killed in combat.
Master Sgt. Corley earned the award in January of 2022 while serving as the leader of a six-person team in northwest Africa where he was responsible for intelligence exploitation and integration with partners and allies. Though wounded in an attack on base where he was assigned, he assisted partner forces in locating the point from which his element was attacked.
“Wherever you look in Africa, when it’s somewhere tough or dangerous, SOCAFRICA is there,” said Gen. Steven Townsend, AFRICOM commander. “Master Sergeant Corley did what U.S. forces typically do when wounded, stay in the fight until they pass out or are instructed to stand down.”
Master Sgt. Corley was medically evacuated the following day and has spent his time since the attack focusing on physical recovery and staying in the fight from SOCAFRICA headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.
“This has been an amazing rotation in seeing how much the battalion has done for the mission,” said Master Sgt. Corley. “I especially want to thank my family, my battalion, and the staff at Landstuhl [military hospital], especially the rehab team, for doing an amazing job taking care of me. I’m very fortunate to be here to accept this medal.”
Special Operations Command Africa engages with partner-force militaries on the African continent daily, both in person and virtually.
“Master Sgt. Corley’s service and sacrifice are indicative of the great work our teams do across the continent,” said Rear Adm. Milton J. Sands III, Special Operations Commander Africa commander. “We have folks in Africa who are in harm’s way to ensure we see threats coming that could threaten our nation. There are those out in the world who would attack America – Special Operations Command Africa service members, like Master Sgt. Corley, stands as a sentinel.”
Master Sgt. Corley joined the U.S. Army in September 2001, enlisting in 2nd Battalion 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Mississippi Army National Guard. He has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom six times, including three times to Afghanistan, once to Lebanon, and currently serving his second tour with Special Operations Task Force – Northwest Africa under Special Operations Command Africa.
Some of his previous awards and decorations include two Bronze Stars, a Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, six Army Commendation Medals, and the Humanitarian Assistance Medal for Hurricane Katrina.
This courtesy story by Special Operations Command Africa was originally published on April 8, 2022 by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. DVIDS content is in the public domain.