Reluctant Marine hero awarded Silver Star

UTI1728010_r620x349    Former Marine Sgt. Matthew Woodall receives the Silver Star from Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson Friday at Camp Pendleton.
story by: Jeanette Steele
photo courtesy of: Howard Lipin
A reluctant hero received the nation’s third-highest combat award at Camp Pendleton Friday.
Matthew Woodall, now a civilian, told the Marine Corps to just put his Silver Star in the mail. Instead, the soft-spoken 28-year-old from Kentucky stood ramrod straight on the parade ground as the medal was pinned on his blue dress shirt.
His 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment comrades were not going to let the sergeant’s valor in one of the deadliest districts of Afghanistan go unheralded.
“What an extraordinary opportunity to reward a real hero,” said Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division. “If you think this award is just another award, a routine award, you are wrong. This is an exclusive award that we hold and guard very jealously.”
It was a hot, dirty day in Sangin in July 2011. Woodall led his 12-man squad out for an early morning security patrol.
They were showing American presence in the district full of enemy fighters. The U.S. military surge was beginning to work in Afghanistan, but it was the result of hard-won battles like the ones by the Marines in Helmand province.

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