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Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, commander of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, pins the Silver Star Medal on Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Simson, a hospitalman with 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, here Feb. 26. Simson was awarded the medal for heroic actions during an ambush while he was working as an advisor in Afghanistan with Embedded Training Team 6-2.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Brian M. Woodruff

Corpsman awarded Silver Star

26 Feb 2009 | Lance Cpl. Brian M. Woodruff

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Simson, a hospitalman with 5th Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, received the Silver Star medal here, Feb. 26.

Simson received the award for his heroic actions on July 27, 2007, while serving with Embedded Training Team 6-2 in Afghanistan as an advisor to the 3rd Kankak, 1st Brigade, 201st Corps of the Afghan National Army, in the Nuristan Province.

        On a patrol near the tiny village of Saret Kholet, Simson’s patrol was ambushed by anti-coalition forces. Faced with heavy amounts of small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, casualties among the U.S. and Afghan Army rapidly mounted.

        Simson, with no concern for his own safety, moved throughout the position taking care of the wounded while exposed to enemy fire, at one point enduring a direct hit from a rocket propelled grenade to his triage position.

        “You didn’t have time to really think it over, you just did what you were trained to do,” Simson said.  “It was just muscle memory.”

        At one point, while treating a fellow servicemember, fifteen to twenty rounds impacted within a few feet of Simson. He returned fire and got his patient to an area with greater cover. Later, while withdrawing from enemy fire, an Afghan soldier was wounded and lay helpless in the middle of the road.

Simson rushed out from his position, without hesitation and without regard for himself, and worked to save the life of the wounded soldier.

        “Simson was out there in the open, totally uncovered without even thinking about the fact that he could be shot at any moment,” said Sgt. Chris MacVarish, a Marine who was with the team during that day.

                At the end of the seven-hour long firefight, Simson saved the lives of numerous men and in doing so showed courage known by few.

        After the award was pinned on him by Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, Commanding General of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Simson stood up in front of the formation to speak about the award, his feelings and to give advice to his fellow Marines and sailors.

        “I’m kind of at a loss for words here, this is all pretty overwhelming, but I can tell you to stick to your training, that’s the most important thing,” Simson said.

        A thunderous “Ooo-rah Doc!” followed Simson’s short but modest speech and his fellow Marines and sailors came forward to congratulate him.

        As a Silver Star medal recipient, he now shares an honor held by such men as President Lyndon B. Johnson, former Commandant Gen. Charles C. Krulak and Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell “Chesty” Puller.

        But after everything Simson did, he still wanted to recognize his fellow brethren.

        “There were other people out there doing just as much as I was,” Simson said.