By Pfc. Demetrius Morgan, 11th MEU
Staff Sgt. Paul Worley, an infantry platoon sergeant with the I Marine Expeditionary Force’s 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines was awarded the Silver Star Medal on base Tuesday.
Worley, an Eden N.C., native, was awarded the Silver Star Medal for heroic actions serving as a squad leader with the battalion July 12, 2010 in support of operation Enduring Freedom.
The Silver Star Medal is the third highest award a service member can receive. It is awarded to those who show perseverance and valor in the heat of battle.
“I give special thanks to my parents for putting up with me,” said Worley. “Also, I want to thank the Marines who were with me. You guys have a special place in my heart.”
Worley and his squad provided flank security for a route clearance platoon as part of Operation Roadhouse I. During the operation, the enemy initiated a coordinated attack with various means of offense consisting of sniper fire, rockets, and rocket propelled grenades.
Worley exposed himself to enemy fire to efficiently direct his squad’s counter attack to suppress the enemy fighting positions. “He was the best squad leader I had ever had,” said Sgt. Jacob Schmitt, who was a javelin gunner for Worley’s squad during the 2010 deployment. “When you are in an infantry unit for so long you get kind of close in combat.”
Worley and his squad sustained an admirable effort for approximately five hours, according to his citation. When numerous machine gunners began to run low on ammunition, Worley ran between compounds to resupply his men. During one of those trips he was shot in his right thigh.
His courage did not waiver in the face of adversity. He tended to his own wounds and directed a corpsman to a more seriously injured Marine. In addition to courage Worley showed commitment to his mission and refused to be medically evacuated until he saw fit.
“My adrenaline was so high,” said Worley. “When I got hit I scooted behind a wall and dressed my wound. Once I did that I continued what I was doing and took a few more trips to get the ammunition. My command wanted to evacuate me but I explained the situation to them and I got to stay until it was dark out.”
Worley continued to move about the battlefield under seemingly endless waves of effective enemy direct fire. With self reliance and personal determination he efficiently led his squad until the enemy was suppressed.
“It’s definitely one of those moments you never forget,” said Worley. “It’s easy to be in charge when you have the Marines that I had with me.”
Worley’s actions were directly responsible for the destruction of enemy forces and ensuring the safety of his Marines. Worley’s disregard for his own safety and his dedication to his duty is why he is now a recipient of the Silver Star Medal.