Marine Sniper Earns Award For Valor
(August 20, 2010)
|CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (MCN - 8/16/2010) — The hide is a
sniper's safe haven. It's a hole they dig, cover with
camouflage and live in for days or weeks at a time. But what
happens when a sniper and his team find a bomb in their
For Sgt. Michael G. Dowling, it was a no-brainer.
Col. John Lowrey, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific's Regional Operations and Plans officer in charge, presents Sgt. Michael G. Dowling a Bronze Star with “V” device for valor July 6,
2010 at the MarForPac Headquarters, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. Dowling, a scout sniper currently serving as the ROPS noncommissioned officer in charge, led more than 30 missions as a scout sniper team leader during his 2009 Afghanistan deployment with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
“He made sure everyone of us got out first,” said Cpl.
Daniel Hilsdorf, a scout sniper with 2nd Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment. “He was the last one out and refused to
leave until he knew we were all safe. That's just the kind
of guy he is. He's a good leader."
Dowling, a scout sniper who currently serves as the
noncommissioned officer in charge for Regional Operations
and Plans, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, has deployed
to combat four times. When asked about his experiences, he
remains humble and insists he was simply doing his job.
On July 6, Dowling was recognized for what he chalks up to
just doing what Marines do. He was awarded a Bronze Star
Medal with a “V” device for valor for his actions while
serving in Afghanistan as a scout sniper team leader with
Scout Sniper Platoon, G
Company, 2/3, in 2009.
Dowling's road to heroism began almost nine years ago. On
his way to college, he turned on his radio and was shocked
by what he heard. |
The day was Sept. 11, 2001.
Filled with anger and debating what to do with the rest of
his life, he enlisted six days later as a Marine
“It was something I had always wanted to do,” Dowling said.
“A lot of my family members were former Marines. I hadn't
been to my classes for a while and I just kept putting off
talking to a recruiter. 9/11 sealed the deal for me.”
In 2003, Dowling deployed to the Persian Golf in support of
the initial invasion of Iraq. He deployed to Iraq in 2005 as
a fire team leader and again in 2006 as a squad leader.
Always seeking to challenge himself and prove his worth,
Dowling decided it was time for a change and became a scout
“It was the next logical step,” he said. “As a sniper, I got
to operate more independently and there was a lot more
responsibility. As a squad leader, I was given missions,
told where to go and what to do. As a sniper, I worked
directly for the company commander. I had a lot more input
in how my team was used.”
In 2008, he did his final Iraq deployment as a scout sniper
team leader. Then came his 2009 tour in Afghanistan.
The Andover, Conn., native's exploits in Afghanistan didn't
end with saving his team in their hide, however.
According to his award's summary of action, Dowling's
abilities and willingness to get in harm's way to accomplish
any mission exceeded the expectations of the sniper
He led more than 30 scout sniper missions, which included
raids, ambushes, protecting Marine forces, reconnaissance,
surveillance and foot patrols. He also operated for seven
days straight deep within enemy territory and earned himself
a reputation as an expert regarding operations in the Now
Zad District in Afghanistan.
After receiving a Bronze Star with a “V” device for valor July 6,
2010 at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific Headquarters, Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii, Sgt. Michael G. Dowling (center) credited his team for his award. Dowling, a scout sniper currently serving as the noncommissioned officer in charge for Regional Operations and Plans, MarForPac, was recognized for his actions while serving in Afghanistan as a scout sniper team leader. (Dowling's team, from left to right) Lance Cpl. Will Betts, Cpl. Daniel Hilsdorf,
Petty Officer 3rd Class Cory McGuire and Lance Cpl.
“He'll never admit it, but he went above and beyond what is
required from a sniper team leader,” said Hilsdorf, who
served as Dowling's assistant team leader. “Whenever he went
on a mission, he always carried the heaviest pack. He's the
kind of guy who leads by example, is very knowledgeable and
Another moment Dowling demonstrated his decisiveness was
when a Marine stepped on a mine. His Marines remember him
reacting immediately to care for the Marine and assess if
any of the others were injured. He then instructed a team of
engineers to clear a route, called for additional troops,
continuously monitored everyone in his team to ensure they
did not stray from the path and called for a medical
He then took the responsibility of helping to carry the
Marine, a duty any of his subordinates could have performed,
but he chose to bear the burden.
“Sgt. Dowling kept his Marines focused on the mission at
hand in this trying time; a time when a leader's abilities
would be challenged,” Capt. Zachary D. Martin wrote in the
summary of action. “Sgt. Dowling acquitted himself as only a
Marine [noncommissioned officer] can; with poise, dignity
and absolute professionalism.”
Now a reservist on active duty orders, Dowling continues to
be humble about what he has done and thinks only of what his
Marines have accomplished when awarded for his valor.
“It's really not a big deal,” Dowling said. “I did my job.
Any team leader would have done the same thing. If I deserve
this award, every member of my team deserves nothing less.”
Article and photos by Sgt. Juan D. Alfonso|
Marine Forces Pacific
Marine Corps News
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