Defac Soldier stops local national from stealing weapon

Story and Photo by Sgt. Ann Venturato
13th COSCOM Public Affairs

On February 15, Spc. Darrell Houzah, a food service specialist with the 4 CMMC, 13th COSCOM, prevented a local national from stealing an M16A2 rifle with ammo while he was working at the dining facility #1.

Because of his quick action, Houzah was awarded an impact Army Commendation Medal with V device for valor, which was presented by Col. (P) James Chambers.

"It was during lunch when it happened. I had finished my lunch and was just waiting for my shift to start," said Houzah.

"I normally hang around everyday prior to my shift to see what I can do to help out during the lunch time rush," said Houzah. "Helping people with getting to go meals for Soldiers on the guard towers."

Houzah said that while he was taking a smoke break on the back dock of dining facility # 1, he saw a local national carrying a M16A2 rifle toward a pickup truck.

"I asked the local national, 'why do you have the weapon?" and then I told him to give me the weapon," said Houzah.

"He just gave me the weapon back without any trouble," said Houzah.

"I just reacted," said Houzah, "I just thought of doing the right thing. It was an adrenaline thing, I wasn't thinking about getting shot or anything"

"I went to the mayor's cell and let the mayor's cell along with the MP's know what was going on," said Houzah. "I ended up going with the MP's to the north gate to confirm the identity of the local national who had tried to take the weapon."

"I had never seen the local national who had tried to take the weapon prior to the incident," said Houzah.

"I ended up giving the weapon that I had taken from the local national to the mayor's cell. At that time I didn't know what to do with the weapon. I first took the weapon to my chain of command and they told me go and turn it in to the mayor cell," said Houzah.

"This is the first incident that the BDOC has any knowledge of," said Sgt. 1st Class Chris Nelson, a sergeant with the 3/504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, who works in the base defense operations center. "It would have been a very bad thing if the enemy had gotten a hold of a weapon."

"The weapon that was turned in had a 30-round magazine attached to it," said Nelson.

"Soldiers need to keep their weapons with them, this is a combat zone, not the National Training Center. You can't rekey yourself," said Nelson. "When you are in the middle of a firefight is no time to realize you don't have your weapon or ammunition with you."

"Pay attention to what is going on around you, if it doesn't look right, fix it. It doesn't matter how small or insignificant it looks like," advises Nelson.


news photo
SPC Darrell Houzah