PATROL BASE LAMBADAND, Afghanistan (3/17/2012) — Marines across
the globe perform admirably in high stress, difficult situations on
a daily basis.
U.S. Marine Cpl. Robert D. Knutson (left), a squad leader with
Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, and native of
Lebanon, Pa., poses for a photo with a Marine in his squad before a
patrol here on March 5, 2012. During his last deployment to Helmand
province's Marjah district, Knustson saved the life of his best
friend. Since he was promoted to squad leader for his current
deployment in neighboring Nawa district, not a single Marine under
his charge has been wounded or killed in action. Photo by USMC Cpl.
While many of these Marines are rewarded with medals for their
service and dedication, others feel satisfaction just knowing they
did their job. In some cases, doing their job could mean keeping the
Marines and sailors around them alive and well.
Marine Cpl. Robert D. Knutson, a squad leader with Weapons Company,
2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, it meant making sure his best
friend lived to see another day.
“I will never forget that
day,” said Knutson, a native of Lebanon, Pa. “So far it is my most
memorable Marine Corps experience.”
On Sep. 24, 2010,
Knutson was on patrol in Helmand province's Marjah district when his
squad came under heavy enemy machine gun and small arms fire. In the
midst of the battle, Knutson got word that his best friend, Cpl.
Millard W. Westfall, a native of Opp, Ala., had been shot and was
Without hesitation, Knutson ran across an
open field toward Westfall exposing himself multiple times to enemy
gunfire. After finding his friend, Knutson quickly placed a
tourniquet above the open wound on Westfall's leg to stop the
bleeding. After stabilizing Westfall and calling in
a casualty evacuation, he provided security for almost an
hour until the medevac helicopter arrived.
“I am no hero by any means,” said Knutson. “It's just
moments like that that make you appreciate what you still
While Knutson was not awarded a medal for his
gallantry, he believes the life of his best friend is the
only reward he needs for his actions that day.br>
“It's completely OK
with me that I didn't get anything for it,” said Knutson.
“My friend is still alive, that's the only thing I need.”
Knutson is currently leading his squad in
counterinsurgency operations in neighboring Nawa district
after being meritoriously promoted to corporal.
always does the right thing and sets the example,” said Sgt.
William D. Galentine, a fellow squad leader with Weapons
Company and native of Maryville, Tenn. “He genuinely cares
about his Marines and always accomplishes the mission.”
Knutson uses his experiences in Marjah to teach the
Marines in his squad. Though he hopes that none of them will
be put in a similar situation, Knutson understands the
possibility will always exist.
“When we first got to
Nawa I would tell my guys to never get complacent because
you never know what could happen,” said Knutson. “I think my
Marines benefit from my experiences in Marjah and that's why
they're learning so quickly.”
Although Knutson and
his fellow Weapons Company Marines and sailors currently
operate in the most hostile area in Nawa, not a single
Marine under his charge has been wounded or killed in action
since his promotion to squad leader.
“My squad has
been in more firefights than anybody else here and nobody's
been hurt,” said Knutson. “I take a tremendous pride in
By USMC Cpl. Johnny Merkley
Regimental Combat Team-5, 1st Marine
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