***USO Soldier of the Year Sgt. Craig D. Warfle 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment Fort Lewis, Wash.
Petty Officer 1st Class Andrew C. Munden distinguished himself by operating at the front of more than 140 combat patrols and clearance operations while deployed to Afghanistan as a member of EOD Mobile Unit Three and Navy SEAL Team 5. Munden was among a select few EOD technicians assigned to provide direct support to Navy SEAL teams in Afghanistan. On October 6, 2012, Munden’s team left a key leader engagement to find the Taliban had shut down the road connecting the town they were visiting from the district center. Munden proceeded to lead a sweep of the road, where he located two pressure-plate IEDs and cleared them without the protection of a bomb suit or robotic devices. Those were two of the 14 IEDs he cleared without a bomb suit or a robot during his deployment. While deployed, he also trained and qualified 42 Afghan Local Police officers for duty as mine- clearance engineers. He was credited with displaying outstanding situational awareness and keen attention to detail throughout that deployment, undoubtedly leading to the survival of his teammates and the local population.