CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - 1st Sgt. Anthony J. Velarde, the first
sergeant with 1st Civil Affairs Group, Force Headquarters Group,
Marine Forces Reserve, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat
distinguishing device during a ceremony here, March 11.
1st Sgt. Anthony J. Velarde, a first sergeant with 1st Civil Affairs
Group, Marine Forces Reserve, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with
combat distinguishing device during a ceremony here, March 11, 2013.
He received the medal for his actions while deployed as a company
gunnery sergeant with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment,
in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Courtesy Photo)
Velarde was recognized for his actions during combat
operations in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. The first
sergeant, at the time a company gunnery sergeant with
Company F, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment (known as the
Blackhearts), demonstrated acts of heroism during an
eight-hour firefight near a town of Kashta Jelijay, March
“This award is for the company. It's
really for the Blackhearts,” said Velarde, a
native of Baldwin Park, Calif. “It was a company effort
because we were out there hooking and jabbing all night and
day. I am always going to be proud to wear that for the
While overseeing the operation from a
command operating center as a senior tactical advisor,
Velarde received reports of roadside bombs and two
pinned-down Marine platoons, he quickly assembled and led a
small reaction force to assist the Marines.
“I was in
the COC and I heard that my boys were in trouble down
there,” said Velarde. “It was eating me up that they needed
help. I just needed to get out there and make sure they all
got back safely.”
Driving seven kilometers in
off-road terrain, Velarde navigated to the battle site
without knowledge of the terrain, said Capt. Travis R.
Martin, Velarde's company commander while deployed in
Upon arrival he set up a security
cordon and used his tactical skills to seize a piece of
contested high-ground from the enemy, said Martin. When one
of the platoons became pinned down again, he ordered his
vehicle into the line of enemy fire to provide cover and
regenerate forward momentum for a counter-attack.
Velarde also redirected fire from other vehicles and
effectively suppressed enemy machine gun and rocket teams.
Finally, he enabled trapped units to withdraw by directing
mortar fire to wrestle off the insurgents.
currently the commanding officer of Headquarters and Service
Company, 2/25, said he would seek Velarde to have at his
side in combat anytime.
“Our (Marines) took the
fight to the enemy with great credit to his force of will
and constant energy towards the mission,” said Martin. “He
worked himself ragged for the Marines of Fox Company. 1st
Sgt. Velarde is my hero.“
By USMC Cpl. Marcin Platek
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