View Full Version : Silver and Bronze Stars awarded to Weapons Company Marines

04-01-06, 06:27 AM
Silver and Bronze Stars awarded to Weapons Company Marines
By: MARK WALKER - Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON ---- The two Marines say they were just doing their jobs when they led their troops in beating back an insurgent assault last year in Ramadi, Iraq.

The Defense Department says they did a lot more, and Friday awarded a Silver Star to 1st Lt. David Russell and a Bronze Star with V for Valor to Staff Sgt. Timothy Cyparski.

Russell, commander of Camp Pendleton's 25-member Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was recognized for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity" in action after a group of 13 insurgents attacked a roadside checkpoint on May 3, 2005.

Russell, 25, was cited for having crossed a 100-yard open area to resupply one his Marines who had run out of ammunition, rescuing an Iraqi soldier attached to the unit and putting himself in the line of fire so Cyparski and the rest of his troops could mount a counter-assault.

Cyparski, 27, joined his lieutenant in helping to resupply the Marine out of bullets and in directing the counterattack and now has two Bronze Stars, having been awarded the first for a similar display of courage during fighting in Fallujah in the spring of 2004.

First Marine Division Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski presented Cyparski with his second Bronze Star and Russell with his Silver Star during a ceremony at the headquarters of the 5th Marine Regiment in the San Onofre section of Camp Pendleton on Friday morning. The two represent the finest tradition of the corps, the general said.

"We don't just hand these out," Natonski said of the medals. "What they did that day was incredible."

The platoon was guarding an entry way into Ramadi when 13 insurgents opened fire with small arms, machine guns and grenades.

With a single shot, Russell killed an attacker who was wielding a machine gun. He and Cyparski then saw a young Marine was isolated and out of bullets and they crossed the open area to resupply him.

Russell then drew enemy fire on himself so Cyparski and the other troops could mount a counterattack.

In the course of the battle, Russell was hit in the head with a round from an AK-47 assault rifle, with the bullet striking his helmet and grazing his skull. He also suffered shrapnel wounds to his arm and face from a grenade thrown by an insurgent, but refused medical treatment until ordered to do so.

When Russell left the battle, Cyparski took command of the unit for the next three days.

Eleven months later, they say they were just doing their jobs.

"Awards are all about being in the wrong place at the wrong time with the right people," said Russell, a 2002 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy who could have gone to medical school but opted for a posting with a Marine infantry unit. "They pinned it on me, but the rest of the unit deserves it as much as I do."

Russell said he chose the infantry to fulfill a long-held wish, and that he believes U.S. efforts to train and install an effective Iraqi army and security force are achieving success.

"It is absolutely, 100 percent working," said the native of Georgetown, Texas.

Russell's parents, Hugh and Charlotte, attended the ceremony and said they tried to keep their focus on a subject other than Iraq during their son's two deployments.

"You don't think about that knock on the door," said Hugh Russell, an immigrant from Ireland who met his wife in Tehran, Iran. He was an engineer who worked on large construction projects while his wife was teaching English to Iranian air force pilots. "The main thing is we have to support our troops regardless of what you may think about the war," he said.

Cyparski was joined at the ceremony by his pregnant wife, Alice, and 3-year-old son, Devon. He was awarded his first Bronze Star for coming to the rescue of a lost truck during a firefight in Fallujah.

"I don't go looking for fighting," said the native of Erie, Pa. "You don't think about nothing ---- just kill them."

His wife said she never worried too much during either of her husband's two deployments.

"I just always knew he would come back to us," she said.

Neither Marine is slated to go back to Iraq for a third time, but neither ruled it out.

Russell is considering his options while Cyparski said he was working to change an assignment to a job in Montana.

Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or mlwalker@nctimes.com.


04-01-06, 06:32 AM
2 Marines Decorated for Risking Their Lives to Save an Iraqi Soldier
They ran across an open area under fire to get the wounded man. A lieutenant wins a Silver Star and a sergeant gets his second Bronze Star.
By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer
April 1, 2006

CAMP PENDLETON — A Marine lieutenant and a staff sergeant were awarded medals Friday for bravery and leadership during a firefight in Iraq last year in which they risked their lives to save a wounded Iraqi soldier.

"He was attached to my platoon, and he was my responsibility," said 1st Lt. David Russell, who received the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest medal for bravery.

Staff Sgt. Timothy Cyparski received the Bronze Star, his second in two tours in Iraq. He won his first for actions during the battle for Fallouja in 2004.

Last May, Cyparski, 27, of Erie, Pa., and Russell, 25, of San Antonio, were leading a platoon assigned to protect a checkpoint in Ramadi when insurgents attacked with AK-47s, hand grenades and other small-arms fire, according to the official account.

The two led a counter-assault that killed 13 insurgents and captured eight. Russell was struck in the helmet, suffering a concussion and "bleeding profusely."

"When he discovered that a Marine isolated in a bunker needed ammunition, he raced to supply him by crossing 75 meters of open area while under fire from at least six insurgents," said Russell's citation.

The Iraqi soldier was wounded and pinned down away from the main part of the platoon. The two Marines dashed across an open area under fire to get him to safety so he could be rushed to a field hospital.

When Russell was forced to evacuate for medical attention, Cyparski took over and held the checkpoint for three days: "His actions prevented innocent loss of life."

During a formation outside the headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, the two received the medals from Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division.

Russell graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and joined the Marine Corps, selecting infantry as his specialty. His parents said they have never worried during his two tours.

"We don't think about the knock on the door," said Russell's father, Hugh. "We've always been a lucky family. We figured we'd stay lucky."

For Cyparski's wife, pregnant with their second child, her husband's two medals for bravery in combat are enough.

"I don't want him to go back and do it again," said Alice Cyparski, standing by the couple's 3-year-old son, Devon. "I don't want him to get another Bronze Star."