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thedrifter
11-18-06, 08:57 AM
November 17, 2006

Staff sergeant awarded Silver Star

By Gidget Fuentes
Staff writer


OCEANSIDE, Calif. — With Marines in peril twice over a four-day period, something in Sgt. Dennis Woullard pressed him to battle through enemy fire to help pull wounded leathernecks out of danger.

For his actions and “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity” in the heat of battle in Iraq, Woullard, now a staff sergeant, received the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest medal for combat heroism, on Wednesday.


Woullard, an activated reservist and a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, was assigned as a radio chief with 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion’s Alpha Company, helping with house-clearing operations in Ubaydi, near the Syrian border, in early May 2005.

But on May 8, as the men breached a house, enemy fighters took on the fire team with machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades, wounding every member, including Woullard.

Despite his wounds, Woullard pulled two Marines from the house and joined others in an assault to retrieve another Marine trapped inside.

Woullard “repeatedly exposed himself to heavy fire and assaulted into the house,” the award citation states. “He rescued the trapped Marine, shielding him with his body as he carried him to an assault amphibian vehicle, where he administered first aid until en route to the battalion.”

That battle, which involved reservists with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, was recounted in a Washington Post article written by an embedded journalist. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life,” Woullard said in the article. “It was an all-out ambush.”

Three days later, also near the Syrian border, Woullard was riding in an amtrac when a roadside bomb struck the vehicle. Every one of the 17 Marines in the vehicle, including men with Lima, 3/25, was killed or wounded.

“Although again wounded and disoriented from the explosion, Sergeant Woullard struggled to the rear of the vehicle and opened the personnel hatch. With complete disregard for his own safety and exposed to the intense heat and exploding ammunition, he repeatedly returned to the burning vehicle to evacuate the severely wounded Marines,” the citation states.

At the Camp Pendleton ceremony, Woullard remembered his fallen men.

“They were young Marines and I saw them as not having full life experiences yet,” Woullard said, according to a Marine Corps News article. “Seeing them injured really [angered] me and if someone was going down, it was going to be me.

“I thought we may not make it out alive, but we’ll take as many as we can get,” he said.