It was a moment of shared recognition, as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were honored for the part they played in saving 24 young Iraqi lives.
The day they unexpectedly came upon a group of special needs boys as they lay dying in an Iraqi orphanage in June was reported by CBS News' chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan. The story showed how the boys were tied up, naked and starving while those responsible kept piles of new clothing and food just down the hallway.
There was only one boy that the soldiers weren't able to save: Saddam Ali Abbas succumbed to his wounds a few weeks later.
In spite of that, an Iraqi government investigation that was presented to Parliament last month found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing; publicly, some officials accused the U.S. military and CBS News of exaggerating the condition of the emaciated boys.
But Brigadier Gen. Fallah Hassan of the 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, whose men helped in the rescue, had no doubt.
"The pictures speak for themselves," he told Logan. "You can see the suffering of the boys. There's no way it can be denied."
Were it not for the soldiers, more boys would have died, according to the Iraqi doctors who treated them.
"It was disappointing for me to see kids like that, in this kind of situation. I felt really bad," says U.S. Staff Sgt. Osman Koroma, Dagger Brigade, 2nd BCT. "I almost cried the first time I saw them."
Koroma received his medal, but also a personal commendation from his commander for his actions that day.
He says the award, which he dedicates to the children, means a lot to him.
But none of these these special needs boys have ever been properly diagnosed, and there's still no special care for them.
The good thing is that these boys are still much better off than they were before, but the depressing thing about coming back is being reminded that for them, this is as good as it gets.
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