|CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Oct. 12, 2006 —
Sgt. Jason A. Gagliano, a squad leader with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment received the Bronze Star medal for heroic achievement in connection with combat operations in Fallujah, Iraq, while in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Gagliano’s unit was conducting a reconnaissance patrol on Jan. 7, when they were attacked with small arms fire from an unknown location.
“We went out on a lot of patrols, and you can’t help but think each time you go out patrolling that you’re going to get attacked,” Gagliano said.
During the attack, two of Gagliano’s Marines were mortally wounded. “We were shot at out of nowhere and one of my Marines was shot, another Marine tried to retrieve him but he was shot as well,” he said.
Gagliano ordered his squad to suppress the enemy with heavy fire as he threw a smoke grenade to help conceal his squad.
“I had to think quickly, even though we had Marines down, I had to make sure no one else got hit while we tried to rescue the Marines,” Gagliano explained.
A corpsman with his squad, who ran out to get one of the Marines, was also shot.
Despite the heavy rifle fire, Gagliano directed one team to return fire in the enemies’ direction while he led Marines into the street to recover the wounded Marines on three separate occasions.
“The only thing I could think about was getting my Marines to safety and getting my fallen Marines out of the hot zone,” he explained. “A lot goes through your head when you get engaged in a firefight, but we went through so many exercises that my body just took over and knew exactly what to do.”
Gagliano established a casualty collection point for the medical evacuation and directed follow-on forces toward the suspected enemy position once the entire squad had moved to safety.
“Our main worry was getting everyone to safety, but once we accomplished that, I knew we needed to send Marines back out to fight,” Gagliano said.
The two Marines from his squad died from gunshot wounds but Gagliano’s quick thinking saved the life of the corpsman.