PO2 William J. Harris – Bronze Star with V
Petty Officer 2nd Class William J. Harris was awarded two Bronze Stars with V devices, and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with V device, in a ceremony February 1.
Harris was also meritoriously promoted to the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class in the same ceremony. Harris, a native of Monroe, Michigan, received the three awards for valor for actions taken in three separate engagements with hostile forces in Afghanistan.
Major General Raymond C. Fox, commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, was on hand and gave brief opening remarks to begin the ceremony.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel E. Fennell, commanding officer of Marine Air Control Squadron 4, presented Harris with the awards on behalf of the President of the United States.
“The fact that Petty Officer 2nd Class Harris is receiving three awards, all with combat distinguishing devices, for three separate incidents in Afghanistan is extremely remarkable,” Fennell said. “This is representative of his hard work, resolve, and tremendous service throughout the entire length of his deployment in Afghanistan, and it is impossible to put into words the positive impact that he had on the other service members with whom he served.”
“HM2 William Harris was an astonishing warrior and sailor throughout his entire ETT deployment to Afghanistan,” said Capt. John R. Farris, Harris’s officer in charge in Afghanistan. “The bottom line is that what led Harris to his receiving three awards at once was his leadership and courage during the most ferocious of times. HM2 Harris will always be a Spartan brother of mine.”
On January 17, 2009, after a CH-47 helicopter was shot down in the Korengal Valley, Harris provided heavy machine gun fire to “ward off” the enemy, enabling helicopters to fly safely into the valley to evacuate casualties.
On July 1, 2009, in another incident, Harris risked his life in order to move elements of the Afghanistan National Army to a safe and covered position, took action to provide more effective fires on enemy targets, and provided medical treatment to a wounded Afghan soldier.
On July 30, 2009, Harris again risked his life to move 400 meters under heavy fire from the enemy in order to treat a wounded U.S. soldier. He then organized a team to evacuate the soldier, and led them over 500 meters to a secure location.
According to the award citations (attached), Harris, currently assigned as a hospital corpsmen with Marine Air Control Squadron 4, participated in over 60 combat operations, and was involved in over 50 engagements with the enemy.
Harris served in Afghanistan from November 22, 2008 until August 22, 2009 and was assigned as an advisor with Embedded Training Team 5-4, 3rd Kandak, 2nd Brigade, 201st Corps, Afghan National Army.
by 1stLt John D. Norton
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