2/7 Marine earns Silver Star for combat valor

By Cpl. Ray Lewis, 1st Marine Division

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER, TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (Mar. 21, 2008) -- Any Marine would brave enemy fire to rescue a wounded comrade when you have friends that "got your back."

Cpl. Ian M. Dollard exemplified that sense of brotherhood when he risked his life to save a fellow Marine.

For his actions while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Dollard received the Silver Star — the nation’s third highest award for combat heroism.

His former company commander, Maj. George D. Hasseltine, pinned the award on Dollard during a ceremony on Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field here March 21.

The date was June 24, 2007. While checking a vehicle, Dollard and his men were attacked by automatic machine gun fire.

According to the award citation, Dollard promptly returned fire with his weapon so his Marines could come to the aid of a Marine who was wounded in the attack. Then Dollard and his men started receiving automatic machine gun fire from a second position, which inflicted two gunshot wounds to his platoon commander.

Dollard wasn’t going to let the enemy get away with that. He said adrenaline and suppressive fire from his Marines helped him run to the sound of the enemy’s gunfire.

Without regard for his personal well-being, Dollard narrowly avoided enemy bullets to reach his commander. He then shielded his commander from danger, only to get struck himself, taking two rounds his upper torso body armor.

He was dazed but still insisted to provide first aid to his commander. Then he dragged the lieutenant 25 meters and continued to provide first aid. Seconds later, Dollard was struck in the leg by small arms fire. He refused medical care, then directed his fire team to tend to his commander’s wounds.

Even after a vehicle arrived to the Marines’ rescue, Dollard still refused medical attention until his wounded Marines were treated first.

Dollard’s parents are extremely proud of their son’s accomplishments.

“Ever since he was born I knew he was going to be special,” said Judy Dollard, mother of Cpl. Dollard, of Pleasant, Calif. “It was something that I just felt. He always was that kind of guy that stood up for his friends.”

Cpl. Dollard’s father said he didn’t expect anything like this.

“I know he worked hard in Iraq,” said Todd Dollard, father of the Silver Star Medal recipient. “It’s nice to have something like this to focus it all. Everybody we’ve talked to about this [has] been supportive of this.”

Cpl. Dollard’s former company commander flew here from Arizona to be a part of ceremony.

“I wanted to recognize his achievement and the achievements of the company,” said Hasseltine, Company F’s commander during the time of Dollard’s heroic actions.

Dollard was grateful for the award, but humble.

“I don’t know what to say; it feels good,” he said. “It was a lot of adrenaline. I know I had machine guns doing their job, so I felt safer.”

Dollard currently works as a lifeguard at one of the recreational swimming facilities here and will do so until his Marine Corps contract expires in September.

Meanwhile, Dollard’s former unit will become the first battalion-sized Marine unit to support the Afghan National Police in Afghanistan when they deploy this spring.