MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (3/31/2012) – The parade
deck at San Mateo was filled with Marines March 29, as Sgt. Ryan T.
Sotelo, a San Mateo, Calif. native, was awarded the Silver Star. He
was honored for the actions he took as a squad leader with Company
K, 3rd Bn., 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, while
deployed to Sangin District, Afghanistan, in support of Operation
Sgt. Ryan T. Sotelo, Battalion Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine
Expeditionary Unit, shakes hands with Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey,
commanding general, 1st Marine Division, after receiving the Silver
Star at San Mateo, Calif., March 30, 2012. Sotelo received the
United States' third highest award for combat valor for actions he
took as a squad leader with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine
Regiment while deployed to Sangin District, Afghanistan. Photo by
USMC Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers
Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, commanding general, 1st Marine Division,
presented the medal to Sotelo, who is now a scout sniper with Bn.
Landing Team 3/5, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit. The Silver Star
Medal is the United States' third highest award for combat valor and
is fifth in the precedence of military awards.
humbling when the general pinned on the star,” said Sotelo. “When we
perform out in country we don't do it for metals, we do it for the
Marine on the right and left of us.”
On Nov. 25, 2010,
Sotelo's squad was ambushed in an open field with machine gun and
small arms fire, killing the platoon commander. Without hesitation,
Sotelo took charge of the unit and moved them to a nearby canal. He
then sprinted through heavy fire across open ground to retrieve the
body of his fallen lieutenant.
With the defensive position
unreachable because of intense small arms fire, he called in
supporting arms to cover the squad's
movement to a nearby compound. As insurgents began to assault the
position, he fearlessly led his squad as they repelled the enemy.
When one enemy combatant began to fire on an exposed
Marine, Sotelo closed in on the insurgent and killed him
with a grenade.
“As soon as we got across, we got lit up
and engaged in every direction ,” said Cpl. Jose Launder,
Company K, 3rd Bn., 5th Marines. “Sotelo just ran over and
threw a grenade.”
After a reinforcing Marine unit was
pinned down by heavy fire from the insurgents, Sotelo again
disregarded his own safety to engage the enemy machine gun
with rifle, finally calling in an air strike that silenced
the enemy fire.
“I think a lot of us are here
because of his actions that day,” added Launder.
Realizing that his situation was dire, Sotelo lead a
fighting withdrawal more than 600 meters through enemy fire
to bring his squad back to friendly lines and safety.
Sergeant Sotelo will continue serving his country as he
prepares for the 15th MEU's upcoming deployment scheduled
for this summer.
By USMC Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit
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Silver Star Recipients