MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A Marine with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment was recently awarded one of the military’s highest honors in a post Iraq deployment ceremony here.
Corporal Richard C. Mcelhinny was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroic achievement during combat operations against anti-coalition forces during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served as an assaultman for Bravo Section, 2nd Mobile Assault Platoon.
During Operation Matador, the Williamson, N.Y. native and his section were attacked. From positions to the north, south, and east of the Ramana Bridge, anti-Iraqi forces attacked the Marines with heavy machine gun, small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire.
During the firefight, an improvised explosive device hit one of the Marine’s M1A1 battle tanks. The attack severely wounded three Marines.
The insurgents continued to fire at the tank and the immediate area with machine-gun fire. Mcelhinny quickly realized that the driver was still inside the tank, so he dismounted his vehicle and rushed to the tank while firing his rifle at opposing forces along the way.
“When you are out there, you know that you are fighting alongside your fellow Marines, and you want to do anything it takes to make sure they return home safely,” he said.
Disregarding his own safety, the 22-year-old jumped onto the tank and manned the loader’s M240 Machine-Gun and began firing to suppress enemy positions.
While he maintained a steady stream of fire, his comrades pulled the wounded Marine from the driver compartment.
“I noticed they were having trouble pulling one of the Marines out, so I jumped up on the tank and helped pull him out,” he stated. “After that, I got behind the 240.”
“I wanted people to know that a person isn’t judged by how much he knows, but by the action he takes,” Mcelhinny explained.