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01-03-11, 09:53 PM #1
Former SAW Gunner Receives Silver Star
Former SAW gunner receives Silver Star
Sgt. William W. Rollins fought to silence the enemy and protect wounded Marines
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Jan 3, 2011 18:12:57 EST
Sgt. William W. Rollins was on a routine reconnaissance patrol June 19, 2008, in Farah province, Afghanistan, when his unit came under fire from suspected insurgents.
As his unit, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, patrolled the town of Dowlatabad, a white Toyota sedan sped by and opened fire with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. It was the start of an unexpected, but brutal, four-hour firefight
The car, carrying suspected insurgents, raced back into the village, and Rollins and two squads followed suite in an attempt to hunt down the fighters in the small, congested village.
More than two years later, at a Dec. 17 ceremony at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif., Rollins’ battlefield heroics were recognized with a Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for bravery in war.
Rollins, 26, is now out of the Corps and living in Houston.
“I’m honored to even think that my actions were ever thought worthy [of a Silver Star],” he said.
But Rollins and the ambushed Marines with 2nd Platoon’s first squad weren’t about to give up that day. Rollins called on reinforcements from second squad and organized them to clear the Taliban fighters from the village, six miles from their combat outpost. The Marines spotted a blood trail that led to the abandoned sedan, peppered with holes from more than a dozen rounds. They found two enemy fighters hiding in the riverbed.
Soon, many of the Marines were pinned down in an ambush from a squad-sized force of Taliban fighters. Rollins dashed several times into the line of fire, often exposing himself to draw away the enemy so his men could get to safer ground. There was little protection as they ducked behind short walls and berms in the farm fields and barely hid behind 10-inch-wide tree trunks.
Rollins crept within 30 meters of two machine gun nests, blasting them with his M246 squad automatic weapon, and continued to dodge rounds and lay suppressive cover so his Marines could evacuate several wounded men and get to safety. A gunshot wound to one hand didn’t stop his turret gunner, Lance Cpl. Steven Carper, who fired 800 rounds before running out of ammunition. Carper last year received the Bronze Star with V for his actions.
“The noise was so loud, with us shooting and them shooting,” Rollins recalled.
At one point, he saw one of his men lay mortally wounded almost 50 meters away. Determined to reach him, he tried to stay low as he bounded across the field.
“I’m scooting and shooting and kind of diving,” he said. With the help of another Marine, Rollins dragged the wounded man toward the four-foot wall. With the mortally wounded Marine on his back, Rollins crawled over the wall to safety. The fighting waned by the fourth hour as darkness set in, and the squads made it back to their outpost.
Rollins left the Corps last spring after eight years in uniform and four overseas deployments, including two combat tours in Iraq. A trained emergency medical technician, he said he plans to attend a fire academy and become a firefighter.
He traveled to Twentynine Palms for the ceremony with his parents and his wife, who is expecting their first child.
Rollins considers his Silver Star “a squad award” and credits his men, noting, “everybody was doing what we were trained to do.” He added, “I definitely couldn’t have made it out there without the rest of my squad.”
Rollins’ battalion lost 20 men on that 2008 deployment, including the two Marines killed in that firefight: Capt. Eric Terhune, 34, a helicopter pilot serving as a forward air controller, who Rollins carried out of the battle; and Lance Cpl. Andrew Whitacre, 21, of Muncie, Ind.
01-04-11, 03:04 AM #2
01-05-11, 05:40 PM #3
Sounds Like A Navycross To Me.
Semper Fi And Godbless You My Brother
Stephen Doc Hansen Hm3 Fmf
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