Pittsburgh Marine gets Silver Star for combat bravery

Published On: Dec 11 2012 04:52:14 AM HST

A Marine from Coraopolis received the Silver Star -- one of the highest military decorations -- on Monday at Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall.

Sgt. David Gerardi, 22, was recognized for heroism displayed in a June 2011 ambush in Afghanistan, where his platoon was pinned down by four enemy positions.

Gerardi thanked his fellow Marines as they each walked onto the stage and shook his hand, and he became emotional while recalling their dangerous firefight. (SLIDESHOW: Photos from the ceremony)

"When you're in combat, it's your fellow soldiers, sailors and Marines that you care about. None of the other politics matter. It's just bringing the guys to the left and the right of you home," Gerardi said. "I know the award talks about me a lot, but those guys did more to bring me home than I could ever do for them."

In a written statement, the Marine Corps said Gerardi crossed open terrain to take up a position to suppress the enemy fire. The engagement lasted five hours and included rocket-propelled grenades, automatic grenade launchers and machine-gun fire.

"Whenever you spend a lot of time training for situations like that, you see points of advantage," Gerardi said. "And without throwing any military terminology out, just going to that position made sense. That way, I wouldn't be conflicting with any of the other guys' fire that they were trying to put onto the enemy."

Gerardi enlisted at age 18, motivated by TV coverage of the war: "Those were guys sacrificing everything, and I just felt like I was sitting at home doing nothing."

He's now in the Army National Guard and hopes to eventually become a part of the Special Forces.

"I'm glad he came home alive. Very proud of him," said Gerardi's father, Mike, as he choked up with tears. "He's been a special kid all his life. He's very unselfish."


Photos: Pittsburgh Marine gets Silver Star


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