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Marine sergeant receives Silver Star for bravery in Afghanistan

Marine Sgt. Ryan T. Sotelo of San Mateo, Calif., received the Silver Star for bravery during a Taliban attack in AfghanistanThe ambush was quick and intense on that Thanksgiving Day 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan, long a Taliban stronghold.

The platoon commander was killed and his Marines were under withering small-arms fire by Taliban fighters.

Sgt. Ryan T. Sotelo, a squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, took charge immediately, military officials said, dashing through heavy enemy fire to retrieve the body of 1st Lt. William Donnelly IV.

In the minutes that followed, Sotelo called for backup, led a counterattack to repel an enemy assault, killed one Taliban fighter with a grenade, and then killed a Taliban machine-gunner with his personal weapon.

Rather than wait for air cover, Sotelo led his Marines in a "fighting withdrawal" more than 600 yards through enemy fire.

On Friday at Camp Pendleton, the 29-year-old Sotelo, from San Mateo, Calif., was awarded the Silver Star for "bold leadership, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty" during the attack.


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Photo: Sgt. Ryan Sotelo receives a Silver Star from Major Gen. Ronald Bailey, commanding general of the 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton. Credit: U.S. Marine Corps

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