MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- He was standing there as his battalion came to attention and the order was read, “The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Lt. Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers.”
Desgrosseilliers received his award in a ceremony here Feb. 10 to recognize what he accomplished in Task Force Bruno from Dec. 12 to 23, 2004 in Fallujah, Iraq. His new battalion gathered together to honor his actions and leadership he portrayed while facing tough times where decisions were made and lives were saved.
“This was the first time and it is one of the highlights of my career and especially an honor to give it to him for his actions going above the call of duty,” Brig. Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, 2nd Marine Division assistant division commander, explained. “Its inspiring to his men to see a leader with the experience, combat record, and someone who is not afraid to lead them into battle.”
On December 12, during Task Force Bruno, Desgrosseilliers was the officer in charge at that time. He had in between 60 and 100 Marines with him as they were following the battalion and catching anything they had overlooked.
He got word a few of his Marines had been trapped inside a building by enemy gunfire. He went directly to their aid with other Marines at his side.
“We were following the battalion clearing a few places they didn’t get to and I had a bad feeling; we then made contact with the enemy,” Desgrosseilliers stated. “I wanted to protect my Marines and kill the enemy…in that order.”
The Marines under his charge were his first priority at all times. They were the ones getting the job done and risking their life everyday to complete the mission, he said.
Desgrosseilliers instinctively grabbed the Marines around him when an enemy grenade landed near them as they were aiding the trapped Marines.
“They were throwing down grenades from the second floor at us, and I grabbed the Marines and then I was unconscious,” Desgrosseilliers explained. “We were along the outside wall and I shook it off while regrouping to go back, where we killed three or four more insurgents.”
The Marines under Desgrosseilliers continued on for little over a week. A few days before Christmas, he and his men were still fighting the insurgents of Fallujah. On Dec. 23, 2004, the battalion came under heavy gunfire from the enemy. Desgrosseilliers led his men again into battle knowing well what they needed to do.
Fighting off the enemy combatants, one of the Marines near Desgrosseilliers was injured. He exposed himself to grab the wounded Marine and drag him to safety.
The combined efforts and teamwork provided by all the Marines to close with and destroy the enemy all contributed to the overall success of the battalion.
“I still get chills down my spine when I hear something like this, it makes you truly know what it means to be a Marine,” McMenamin explained.