Mother Of Fallen Marine Is Presented With Her Son's Navy Cross
(November 13, 2010)
Donna and Stephanie
Ouellette, mother and sister of fallen Marine
Cpl. Michael W. Ouellette, where honored in a
ceremony conducted by Marines with 2nd Marine
Division when they were presented the Navy Cross
on behalf of Cpl. Ouellette Nov. 10, 2010. On
March 22, 2009, an improvised explosive device
detonated underneath Cpl. Ouellette, severely
wounding him, while on a foot patrol in the Now
Zad district of Helmand province, Afghanistan.
However, Cpl. Ouellette continued to lead his
Marines of 1st Squad, Company L, 3rd Battalion,
8th Marine Regiment, by directing fire and
thwarting the Taliban's attack. He later
succumbed to his wounds, just moments after he
was evacuated from the area.
MANCHESTER, N.H. (MCN - 11/10/2010) — Donna
Ouellette said she lived the most bittersweet
moment of her life when she accepted her son's
Navy Cross on his behalf.
Donna is the mother of Cpl. Michael W. Ouellette, a Marine who was killed in action
during combat operations in Helmand province,
Afghanistan, March 22, 2009. Secretary of the
Navy Ray Mabus presented Donna the medal during
a ceremony Nov. 10, conducted by Marines with
2nd Marine Division at the Marine Reserve
Support Center in Manchester, N.H., Ouellette's
“I'm awe-struck, proud, amazed, grateful, and
truly honored,” said Donna. “It's bittersweet,
but I'm an incredibly proud mother.”
Cpl. Ouellette, a Marine of four years, was
remembered as living an eventful life by his
family and as leaving a lasting impression with
every Marine with whom he interacted.
“He is our legend at Lima Company,” said his fellow company
member, Sgt. Stephen Porter. “He left us with a legacy to
tell and follow.”|
Cpl. Ouellette was serving as a squad leader with Company L,
3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, in the Now Zad district
of Helmand province. While on a foot patrol with his squad,
an improvised explosive device detonated directly underneath
him. The explosion severed his left leg and peppered him
with shrapnel. Most of the Marines in the patrol were
knocked over and stunned, but Cpl. Jesse Raper, who during
the time was a lance corporal and a junior Marine in the
squad, quickly came to Cpl. Ouellette's aid.
After Raper placed a tourniquet on Cpl. Ouellette and
dragged him out of the explosion crater, Cpl. Ouellette
immediately assessed the situation and began to direct his
Marines to provide security for their position. The IED
explosion stemmed into an ambush, and Taliban forces began
moving in and firing upon the squad's position.
As leader of the squad and senior Marine in the patrol, Cpl.
Ouellette directed fire from his riflemen to thwart the
Taliban's attack. Though he was bleeding severely and being
treated by corpsman Petty Officer 3rd Class Matthew Nolen,
Cpl. Ouellette continued to motivate his Marines to keep
bringing their fight to the enemy combatants, who were just
meters away attempting to envelope upon the Marines'
Cpl. Ouellette then reported the attack and requested
reinforcements over a radio transmission to the company's
headquarters. A friend of Cpl. Ouellette, Sgt. Randy
Moffett, described Cpl. Ouellette's tone as calm and direct.
Vengeance-piloted Marine Corps AH-1 Cobra helicopters
arrived to the scene in moments after Cpl. Ouellette's
request for them and delivered a precise and accurate attack
of firepower to the Taliban fighters who were danger-close
to the Marines. Cpl. Ouellette continued to direct the
attack from the sky over the radio.
When describing the close air support from the Cobra's,
Raper said the Taliban were met with their fate, “and it
wasn't a good day for them after that.”
The expertly-applied fire from the Marines on the ground and
in the air soon became the demise of the Taliban's attack.
Cpl. Ouellette never submitted his charge of the squad
during the firefight and only relinquished when his Marines
were met with reinforcements and began to return to their
base – an act deemed courageous and badass in the Marine
Corps, according to Marines on that patrol. He was evacuated
by ambulance where he lost consciousness and succumbed to
his wounds while en route to the base. He was 28 years old.
“The part he played for this ambush was phenomenal and
incredible ... and seriously heroic,” said Moffett.
For his conspicuous gallantry, bold leadership, wise
judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Cpl. Ouellette
was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the highest award
presented by the Department of the Navy and the military's
second highest award for valor next to the Medal of Honor.
“[Cpl. Ouellette] is a Marine who in the true spirit of the
Corps, gave his life to make sure his Marines lived,” said
Mabus, just moments before he handed the Navy Cross medal to
Cpl. Ouellette's good friends and fellow Marines agreed;
Cpl. Ouellette's priorities as a leader were the welfare of
his Marines and their proficiency at their job.
“I'll be damned if his sacrifices ever die,” said Porter,
who provided mortar fire to the enemy's position during the
firefight. “I will always speak highly of that man because
of the way he went down.”
Cpl. Ouellette was well-known for his stoic facades, yet raw
sense of humor and philosophical discussions amongst his
Marines when serving with the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune,
N.C., based unit. Towering at 6-foot 1-inch tall, weighing
roughly 190 pounds and “solid,” his presence was felt
through intimidation at times, which his junior Marines,
peers and seniors altogether describe very respectful.
“Every little thing we did, we had to have a combat
mindset,” said Raper. “Cpl. Ouellette made sure we were
tough and never weak. He was hard, and we're lucky for that.
He was preparing us.”
Select Marines from his company, most of them in Cpl.
Ouellette's squad, continue to pay visits and keep in
contact with Donna and the Ouellette family.
“From the moment the Marines knocked on my door to inform me
of Michael's death, it's like the Marine Corps wrapped a
warm blanket around me and never took it back,” said Donna.
“It gives me comfort knowing that these were the men he
served with. It's like they're my new adopted sons now.”
Tales of Cpl. Ouellette still ring amongst the Marines with
3rd Bn., 8th Marines. Very few know about the good times he
had while on liberty. But all remember what he represented.
“He's not a distant memory to me,” said Raper. “He's a very
important part of my life. His story is very precious to me
and should continue to live on. It reminds us (Marines) who
Cpl. Ouellette's official Marine Corps photo is mounted on a
plaque and hanging on a hallway wall at Manchester Memorial
High School, Cpl. Ouellette's alma mater. The principal of
the school, Arthur Adamakos, remembered Cpl. Ouellette as “a
young man” during his high school days.
“It does not surprise me that he earned such an award given
the caliber of person that he was,” said Adamakos.
The high school honors the memory of those who fought and
died in wars after World War II, and now honors Cpl.
Ouellette's memory and story every year.
The Navy Cross ceremony shared the day with the Marine
Corps' 235th birthday, an appropriate date to honor Cpl.
Ouellette, said Mabus.
“The Corps has been defined by and always will be defined by
its people; its Marines,” added Mabus. “It is for
people like Cpl. Ouellette who make the Marine Corps the
most professional fighting force the world has seen today.”
Video of Secretary
of the Navy, Ray Mabus, posthumously awarding the Navy Cross
to Corporal Michael W. Ouellette
Sgt. Michael S. Cifuentes
1Headquarters Marine Corps
Marine Corps News
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