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[From left] 1st Lt. Joshua Waddell, who received a Bronze Star Medal, 1st Lt. Schyler Newson and Cpl. Zane Kutch, who both received Purple Heart Medals, salute just before being dismissed from an awards ceremony at Liberty Field Sept. 2, 2011.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sarah Dietz

Medals awarded before ‘Cutting Edge’ returns to combat

9 Sep 2011 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Dietz

Third Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, awarded one Bronze Star Medal with a Combat “V” and two Purple Heart Medals Sept. 2, 2011, at Liberty Field. When given with a “V” for valor, the Bronze Star is the fourth highest medal in the U.S. Armed Forces.

1st Lt. Joshua Waddell, the executive officer for Company I, 3/7, was recognized with this honor for his actions in Sangin, Afghanistan, last year.

On Sept. 13, 2010, Waddell, then a platoon commander, and his Marines were surrounded by more than 50 Taliban fighters and taking fire by almost every direction. He employed his platoon in an effective defensive position to repel the enemy’s 10-hour-long assault. His leadership was directly responsible to for the superb performance of his platoon and the efforts of the insurgents kept at bay. Waddell then exposed himself to enemy fire in order to gain identification of enemy targets. The platoon suffered no casualties, while and the Taliban forces suffered more than 22 confirmed killed or wounded.

“It was the first major offensive we did since the [British] pulled out,” Waddell said. “I work with phenomenal Marines, and they carried us through it. I can’t take any credit. They did everything.”

“The British Royal Marines were watching from their [forward operating base] from a distance, and apparently we had a cheering section,” Waddell said. “It was their first time seeing U.S. Marines in action. We are proud to go back and fight with our brothers.”

His father, Mark Waddell, a former Navy Seal, presented his son with the Bronze Star. “It was a huge honor [to get it from him]. Something I will never forget,” Waddell said.

The two Purple Heart Medals, were awarded to Cpl. Zane Kutch, wounded Aug. 23, 2010, and 1st Lt. Schyler Newson wounded Aug. 18, 2010, both in Afghanistan.

This ceremony took place mere days before “The Cutting Edge” Marines once again stepped foot in Sangin, Afghanistan. The Marines of 3/7 were the first to take the control of Sangin from British forces last year, and are now returning to continue their job during what they refer to as “Sangin II.”

“There’s a few things I remember when I go over,” said Col. Austin Renforth, the 7th Marines commander, as he spoke to his Marines. “One, we as men are different, and we are especially different because we came into the Marine Corps. We have chosen a life with a sense of purpose. We always look for those experiences that give you a sense of purpose. You don’t get it in garrison. You get it in combat.

“Dedicate yourself to your unit, mission and brother,” Renforth said. “We would rather die than let our brother die. That’s who we are. I will see you guys back here in seven months, and the first beer is on me.”


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