A former Marine reconnaissance man is set to receive the Silver Star on Dec. 10 for fending off an ambush and saving his platoon despite sustained machine gun, automatic grenade and rocket-propelled grenade fire during a five-hour fight.
On June 6, 2011, then-Cpl. David M. Gerardi, now a sergeant with the Army National Guard’s 19 Special Forces Group, was on patrol with 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, in the Upper Sangin Valley of Helmand province, Afghanistan. While collecting biometric data on area residents, enemy fighters fired on his position. It would quickly become the “largest, most contested tactical action of the deployment,” according to a summary of action.
Gerardi maneuvered to identify enemy positions and saw movement in nearby compounds, indicating a pending attack. His Team 2 provided overwatch for Team 1 to move on the compound. Suddenly, the firefight exploded with a crescendo of medium machine gun and small-arms fire, pinning Team 1 in a canal — outmanned, outgunned and in serious trouble. With the enemy less than 100 meters away, the team could not return fire or recover an injured Afghan soldier.