Second Marine Division Sgt. Maj. Bryan Zickefoose congratulates Sgt. Ryan Steinkamp on Aug. 28. The rifleman with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, led his squad through a hostile village in Afghanistan in 2012 and cleared more than 50 compounds.
A rifleman from Camp Lejeune received the Silver Star on Aug. 28 for leading a successful night mission in 2012 that cleared more than 50 enemy compounds near an Afghan village without causing a single civilian casualty.
Sgt. Ryan Steinkamp, a squad leader with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, was pinned with the military’s third-highest valor award for his decisive battlefield leadership during a lengthy and grueling combat engagement while attached to Regimental Team Combat 6 in Afghanistan.
On April 17, 2012, Steinkamp and his squad were inserted by helicopter near the village of Payawak in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, close to Forward Operating Base Delaram for a night mission that would become a test of combat skills and endurance. Steinkamp led the squad across 800 meters of terrain laced with mines en route to clear Payawak of insurgents, according to his award citation.
Marines assigned to Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, stand watch aboard the amphibious transport dock San Antonio on July 27. The MEU is forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility as a crisis-response force.
In the run-up to the U.S. military and its allies bombing key targets in Libya in 2011, Marines and sailors with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit floated off the coast on Navy ships, waiting for orders. It didn’t take long for them to come.
Four of the six AV-8B Harrier jets with the force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., were among the first aircraft to launch early March 19, 2011, as U.S. and other allied aircraft joined to bomb Libyan government forces as they advanced on the city of Benghazi. Three days later, the Marines launched one of the most high-profile missions of the campaign: a daring air rescue of an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot who ejected over Libya before his jet crashed.
The mission is indicative of the kind of involvement top Marine officers highlight as the U.S. prepares for military intervention. It comes into play now as the White House and Pentagon set their sights on Syria, where the regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons on civilians has raised the prospect of a U.S. military strike in coming days. It is unlikely the U.S. will send in ground forces, but an air campaign would raise the possibility of aircraft crashing. If that occurs, a Tactical Recovery of Aircraft and Personnel, or TRAP, mission, is a one possibility to rescue surviving U.S. personnel.
President Barack Obama awards U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter the Medal of Honor during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington D.C., Aug. 26. Visit www.army.mil/medalofhonor/carter/index.htmlto learn more about Staff Sgt. Carter and to view the “battlescape” recreation of his heroic actions in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. Ty M. Carter received the Medal of Honor during a ceremony Monday at the White House, marking the first time since the Vietnam War that two living service members have earned the nation’s highest award for valor for actions in the same battle.
Carter is the second soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for actions during the Oct. 3, 2009, battle at Combat Outpost Keating in eastern Afghanistan.
Former Staff Sgt. Clinton Romesha, who did not attend Monday’s ceremony because of a previous commitment to attend a benefit event for homeless veterans in California, received the Medal of Honor Feb. 11.
Carter, 33, who is now assigned to the 7th Infantry Division at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., will be inducted into the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes on Tuesday.
“I’m humbled and honored that I get to represent the soldiers of Black Knight Troop and the families of the fallen,” Carter said in a statement to the media after the ceremony. “I stand here proud that I’ve been chosen to represent the 50-plus soldiers … who faced impossible odds. I’m nervous about living with the responsibility of telling their story.”
Lance Cpl. Pablo Ruiz, a rifleman serving with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, and native of Los Angeles, engages a target with an AT-4 light anti-armor weapon on Range 800 here, Aug 14, 2013. The company conducted day and night platoon attacks reinforced by a combined anti-armor team, mortar fire and machine gun fire as one of their last training exercises before deploying in support of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The 31st MEU is capable of conducting limited contingency operations, amphibious operations and crisis response in the Asia-Pacific region.
Middle Tennessee defensive end Steven Rhodes, center, talks with the school’s president, Dr. Sidney McPhee, right, during NCAA college football practice Aug. 19 in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The NCAA says Rhodes has been cleared to play this season.
Middle Tennessee State walk-on football player and former Marine Steven Rhodes did not quite grasp how public his battle with the NCAA had become.
Rhodes, a 24-year-old freshman who was initially denied eligibility by the NCAA, does not even have cable TV. But he needed no help interpreting the smile across his coach’s face at practice Monday afternoon.
“Coach (Rick Stockstill) was smiling real big. I was ecstatic when he told me. I’m going to play now,” said Rhodes, who was granted his immediate eligibility by an NCAA ruling Monday afternoon.
“This has all been crazy, but I feel like I got a whole new life now. Thank the Lord, I’m going to play football this year.”
The NCAA originally ruled that Rhodes, a Marine sergeant who recently finished his active enlistment, had to forfeit two years of eligibility and take a mandatory redshirt year this season because he participated in a military-only recreational football league at a Marine base in San Diego in 2012.
MTSU won a partial appeal last week, when the NCAA reinstated Rhodes’ two years of eligibility (for a total of four seasons) but upheld his mandatory redshirt year. But Monday, the NCAA granted Rhodes’ immediate eligibility after his plight went public in a big way.
Steven Rhodes felt a duty to serve his country and had a dream to play football.
But now, to his surprise, one is hindering the other in the peculiar case of the Marine and 24-year-old Middle Tennessee State University freshman football player vs. the NCAA.
“This is extremely frustrating. I think it’s unfair, highly unfair,” Rhodes said. “I just got out of the Marine Corps, and I wanted to play. For (the NCAA) to say, ‘No, you can’t play right now,’ I just don’t understand the logic in that.”
Rhodes, from Antioch, Tenn., finished his five years of active service in the Corps this summer. He then called MTSU coaches in hopes of landing a spot as a walk-on player for the Blue Raiders. They happily granted the request of the athletic, 6-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant. He has played tight end and defensive end in preseason camp.
But not long after arriving on campus, Rhodes was told that his participation in a military-only recreational football league in 2012 would hinder his immediate eligibility for Division I football, per an NCAA rule.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Nunez from Burbank, Calif., interacts with Viky, a U.S. Marine Corps improvised explosive device detection dog, after searching a compound while conducting counter-insurgency operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 17, 2013. The Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment conducted operations to deter insurgent activity, establish a presence and gather human intelligence.
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.
Pfc. Matthew Bollig (front) and Pfc. Ryan Kelly, assaultmen with weapons platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, fire an 83 mm high explosive dual purpose rocket from a shoulder fired multipurpose assault weapon in a paired volley fire at the Infantry Platoon Battle Course, Range 10 in the Pohakuloa Training Area, Hawaii, July 20, 2013. The attack was part of Exercise Lava Viper, a battalion-level combined-arms exercise designed to enhance the abilities of ground combat and support element Marines participating.
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