Marine who risked life to save platoon awarded Silver Star
Marine Sgt. David M. Gerardi said risking his life to save his platoon members while under enemy fire in Afghanistan “just made sense.”
The military on Monday awarded Gerardi, 22, of Moon a Silver Star Medal during a ceremony in Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall & Museum in Oakland.
“The individuals who accompany you are a direct reflection of yourself,” said Gerardi, who served in the Marine Corps from June 2008 to April 2012 and is a member of the Army National Guard.
“I've been blessed to serve with the best Marines and soldiers. I've had the best leadership that taught me everything leading up to that gunfight.”
The honor of receiving the military's third-highest decoration for valor stems from Gerardi's actions during a June 6, 2011, ambush in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in which enemy fire pinned down his platoon.
Gerardi, then a corporal, was a sniper with the 1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion. He risked his life to get into a position to suppress the attack.
Gerardi crossed open fire to a position behind a 21⁄2-foot-tall stone wall, which offered him a clear line of sight to the enemy positions. He suppressed an enemy machine gun long enough for an adjacent team to extract an Afghan National Army casualty from open terrain.
With enemy fire hitting around him, Gerardi coordinated with another team and fired a light antitank assault rocket to reduce a second enemy position, allowing his unit to move to safety.
“Basic training kicks in,” Gerardi said. “We spend a lot of time preparing for a situation like that, and you see points of advantage. To go to that position made sense.”
Maj. Gen. Melvin G. Spiese, who presented the medal, spoke of Gerardi's “heroics and personal sacrifice,” risking his life to ensure the safety of fellow Marines.
“He could have chosen to do something other than accept responsibility for the safety of his country,” Spiese said.
Gerardi is a 2008 graduate of Fox Chapel Area High School. The family moved to Moon.
His parents, Mike and Young Gerardi, were overcome with emotion when speaking of their son's honor.
“We thank God for protecting them and helping them come home safely,” said Young Gerardi, 57. “We are so proud of the team and proud of our son.”
Mike Gerardi, 58, said his son has “been a special kid all his life.”
“He's very unselfish. He's just a good kid, a great kid. We're very proud of him.”
Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.