Photo: WTAE Pittsburgh via Video
There was only one thing to do: Marine Cpl. David Gerardi reached for the rocket launcher.Torsten Ove at The Pittsburgh Post Gazette used a Silver Star award citation to report that a group of Taliban fighter caught two teams of Recon Marines in a fierce ambush. Gerardi’s team, referred to as Team 2, was pinned down under a barrage of close range fire pouring in from less than 100 feet away.
Team 1 was the initial subject of the Taliban ambush and had sustained casualties. One, an Afghan soldier, was stuck out in the open, and under the wall of lead, and was unreachable by Marines stuck in a shallow culvert.
Gerardi leapt into action, sprinting toward Team 1 and taking the fire with him. Witnesses of the fight say when Gerardi finally found refuge, behind a small mud wall, rounds were impacting “literally inches” from his head.
Gerardi calmly pointed his weapon through a small hole in the wall, located one source of enemy gunfire, and unloaded his sniper rifle. Three rounds out, and Gerardi dropped the Taliban machine gunner.
With a noticeable lull in the gunfire, Team 1 was able to recover the injured Afghan.
The Taliban wasn’t finished though, they regrouped and threw down explosive rounds, showering shrapnel on the huddled Team 1.
Consequently, Gerardi wasn’t quite finished with the Taliban either.
From his position, Gerardi suppressed the enemy team with sniper fire, something another Marine said “was no easy task” with a sniper rifle. In the meantime, another member of Gerardi’s team called in an airstrike.
Spotting a two-man group of enemy fighters firing from holes behind a wall, Gerardi left cover, reaching for a rocket.
The wall took a direct hit, killing both of them. At that point, Team 1 was able to give proper aid to the injured Afghan.
Then, to top it off, Gerardi noticed movement of another enemy sniper along a treeline and, according to witnesses on the scene, “killed him with a single shot.”
With the Recon Teams again in full control of the situation, they were able to locate and drop ordnance on other enemy positions, and finally retreat under cover of night — a full five hours after initial contact.
At his ceremony a year later, Gerardi, currently a member of the Army’s 19th Special Forces Group, said he’d done what he was trained to do.
He also gave a short speech, tearful, in which he thanked his fellow Marines and asked everyone to remember the fallen.
The silver star is the third highest award for combat valor, behind the service crosses and the Medal of honour.
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