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Marine Bronze Star Hero Tells His Story
by USMC Cpl. Khoa Pelczar - October 17, 2011

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USMC Staff Sgt. Nicholas Singh shortly after receiving the Bronze Star for actions in Afghanistan during an award ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, CA on Sept. 8, 2011. Photo by USMC Cpl. Khoa PelczarCAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (10/14/2011) - A Marine who went above and beyond the call of duty to lead Marines in the recovery of battle-damaged vehicles in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, was recognized for his leadership and accomplishments in a ceremony here, Sept. 8.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Singh, maintenance chief, 1st Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for actions while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

During his 7-month deployment from August 2010 to March 2011, Nicholas led his team in numerous recovery missions, recovering more than 60 battle-damaged vehicles while taking direct and indirect fire, and managing the constant threat of improvised explosive devices.

“I did what any Marine would do,” said Nicholas. “When I'm out there recovering vehicles, my instinct kicked in and I was focused on the mission at hand, which was to get those Marines and their vehicles back to camp safely.”

Juan Singh, Nicholas' father, flew in from El Paso, Texas, to be at his son's award ceremony.

“I'm very proud of his accomplishments,” Juan said. “It's a parent's dream to see their son's success in life. I knew he would make it because since he was a teenager, he has always excelled in school. He wasn't afraid to work hard to accomplish his goals.”

Nicholas used that mentality to lead his Marines, mentoring them to do the right thing.

“I always tell my Marines to stay strong and keep their heads up,” he said. “They can't let anybody keep them from doing what they want to achieve their goals.”

But Nicholas wasn't always a leader of Marines. In fact, before he was recovering and repairing tactical vehicles for the Marine Corps, Nicholas worked with sick animals at a veterinarian clinic in El Paso, Texas.

While going to college and working as a veterinarian, he felt that there was something missing in his life, so he decided to take control and make some changes for himself by joining the Marine Corps Feb. 23, 2000.

Nearly 12 years later and four combat deployments under his belt, to include three tours to Iraq and his most recent tour to Afghanistan, Nicholas is still leading Marines and repairing tactical vehicles – quite a change from his previous occupation.

“I wanted a change of pace,” he said. “I wanted to see what else is out there and at the time, it felt like the Marine Corps was calling my name.”

His father was surprised of the decision to join the Corps, but supported him all the way.

“It was a shock to me,” said Juan. “One minute he was taking care of animals and going to school, the next he was telling me he enlisted in the Marine Corps. But I supported his decision. I told him, ‘You need to make something of yourself if you go.'”

After receiving the Bronze Star, Nicholas remained humbled and credited his success to his subordinates.

“All the things that I do, I do for these Marines I serve with,” said Nicholas. “I don't do it for the fame, I don't do it for the glory, or the attention, but I do it for them. They're the future of this organization and if I can help even just one of them to become better at their job, it'll help us to accomplish our missions.”

He added, “The way I see it, this award isn't just for me but it also represents my Marines. Without them, I don't think I could have done all those missions on my own. I would do anything for these Marines.”

Even up to the point where he stood in front of a formation of Marines awaiting to be awarded, Nicholas still couldn't believe it was real.

“It's hard to describe this feeling,” he said. “When they told me I was put up for this award, I didn't believe it. I thought it was a dream. But now that it's on my chest, I know that it's a reality and I am honored to receive it.”

Nicholas plans to continue his career as a Marine and help mentor new devil dogs when he transfers to Okinawa, Japan, next year. “1st MLG is a good unit,” he said. “It takes care of me and it treats the Marines fair. I'm glad I get to be a part of it.”

More associated images in frame below

By USMC Cpl. Khoa Pelczar
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2011

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