A Marine recovering at Walter Reed Bethesda from injuries sustained in Afghanistan, received one of the highest U.S. military combat decoration on June 14 at the medical center.
Marine Lance Cpl. Jake A. Hill earned the Silver Star “for gallantry in action” while serving with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on Sept. 16, 2010.
On that day, Hill’s squad struck an improvised explosive device (IED) and came under heavy machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire causing multiple casualties.
“Without hesitation, he directed the fire of his team to the enemy’s firing point, and moved from the covered position to engage the enemy with an AT-4 rocket,” stated Hill’s citation for the Silver Star. When the rocket misfired, Hill used his personal weapon and “suppressed the enemy’s position.”
With one of his team members injured by a rocket-propelled grenade, Hill exposed himself to enemy fire a second time, and ran to aid his Marine brother. He applied first-aid, and led the rest of his team through 200-meters for “fire-swept terrain to extract the casualty.”
Hill returned to the IED site and repositioned his team to battle the enemy. He led the team to “extract a mortally-wounded Afghan national army soldier,” and then returned a third time to the site to evacuate his unconscious squad leader. He fought his way to a position to again suppress the enemy firing point, relieving the remainder of his squad to maneuver and eliminate the enemy’s position.
“His courageous actions under fire directly contributed to the overall success of Company L,” the citation continued.
A native of Rapid City, S.D., Hill lost his leg to an IED in September 2010. On Oct. 30, 2011, he completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 3 hours 54 minutes.
“I would like to say thank you to Corporal Hill’s family,” said Lt. Col. Clay Tipton, former commander of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment who led Hill’s unit. “We thank you for the love and support that you’ve given Corporal Hill through his recovery, and that means a lot,” he said as they stood behind Hill at the ceremony.
“Corporal Hill’s bravery and his excellence in performing as an infantryman leading Marines in a combat operation speak for themselves,” Tipton continued. “But [the Silver Star] also recognizes the Marines he served with side-by-side in the 3/7 during that deployment in Afghanistan.” He said the unit recently returned from another deployment to Afghanistan.
“I am confident the future is very bright for Corporal Hill,” Tipton said, adding Marines have the “resilience, bravery and courage to overcome the injuries they’ve sustained in combat, and this great nation of ours is in good hands for generations to come because of young people and Marines like Corporal Hill.”
Following the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross (Navy Cross, Air Force Cross), the Silver Star is the third-highest combat military decoration that can be awarded to a member of any branch of the U.S. armed forces for valor in the face of the enemy. Congress established the Silver Star in 1918, and language governing the award calls for “gallantry in action while engaged in combat against an enemy or while serving in combat with friendly foreign forces.”