Navy Cross awarded to Camp Pendleton Marine killed in combat
In a ceremony Friday at Camp Pendleton, the family of Sgt. Matthew Abbate accepted the award from Maj. Gen. Ronald Bailey, who referred to Abbate as "truly an American hero, a man who proved his mettle in battle."
The award was for Abbate's actions Oct. 14, 2010, when his unit was ambushed by Taliban fighters while on patrol in the Sangin district of Helmand province, long a Taliban stronghold. Abbate, who was 26, was a sniper with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
During the attack, Abbate "took charge of the situation and with total disregard for his own life sprinted forward through the unswept minefield to draw fire and rally the dazed survivors," according to the Navy Cross citation.
Abbate led a counterattack, helped evacuate the wounded and swept a helicopter landing zone for buried explosives. He survived the attack but was killed Dec. 2, 2010, in combat.
"I'm just really proud of him," his tearful widow, Stacie, told the North County Times after the award presentation. "But it's hard. That doesn't change."
Abbate had served in Iraq and been awarded a Purple Heart. He is one of eight former students from Buchanan High School in Clovis to be killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Matthew Abbate and his son Carson. Credit: Marine Corps