Marine Sgt. Philip A. McCulloch Jr., right, is congratulated by Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo on Feb. 10 after receiving the Silver Star during a ceremony at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. (Lenny Ignelzi / The Associated Press)
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SAN DIEGO — A Marine based out of Camp Pendleton received the Silver Star on Friday for courageous service during a bloody, six-hour firefight in the war in Afghanistan.
Sgt. Philip McCulloch Jr. was honored for his actions in a battle in the Sangin district on Jan. 8, 2011, according to U-T San Diego. The firefight began while McCulloch's unit was on patrol and began taking fire from all directions.
McCulloch, who was 22 at the time, said the soldiers found themselves surrounded by Taliban forces. "There was no way out. So we just went toward the enemy," McCulloch told the newspaper.
McCulloch was honored for leading his squad in a counterattack that left the fields of Sangin littered with bodies of Taliban fighters. In the military's citation, McCulloch was praised for "his bold leadership, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty."
Nicknamed the "prodigy," McCulloch is known as a thorough and thoughtful leader. McCulloch's father, Philip Sr., is a former Marine who said his boy was only a toddler when he announced he would join the Corps.
After watching his son accept the nation's third-highest medal for valor in combat, he said "I am the proudest father in the world."
McCulloch Jr. now serves at the recruit depot in San Diego.
He said he accepted the medal on behalf of all fallen warriors, "for my brothers who aren't here anymore," and for those wounded in combat, who "are the true heroes."