Lt. Col. John Wiener pins the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device on 1st Sgt. Bradley G. Simmons during his award ceremony aboard the amphib Rushmore, on Jan. 25. (Cpl. Timothy R. Childers / Marine Corps)
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A senior staff noncommissioned officer was awarded the Bronze Star last week for his heroic actions leading Marines after a 2011 ambush in Afghanistan's Sangin district.
First Sgt. Bradley G. Simmons received the medal with combat distinguishing device during a Jan. 25 ceremony aboard the dock landing ship Rushmore. The amphib is deployed in the U.S. Central Command region with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Camp Pendleton, Calif., according to a Marine Corps news story announcing the award.
Simmons, 34, who is serving as the sergeant major of Combat Logistics Battalion 15, was credited with leading a quick-reaction force against an ambush on a squad of Marines that killed two.
"Simply put, he led by example," Lt. Col. John J. Wiener, CLB-15's commander, said in the news story.
Simmons was the company first sergeant of Company B, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8 at the time of the ambush.
When enemy gunfire pinned down the squad on Aug. 7, 2011, Simmons ran from his vehicle, crossed an open road and directed his vehicle to fire toward the enemy soldiers. He dodged enemy fire to organize a fire team toward a nearby hill to outflank the enemy force, which was stopped by close-air support.
The infantry company lost eight Marines and saw 52 wounded during six months of heavy fighting in their 2011 deployment in Sangin, where they fought insurgents and hunted for improvised explosive devices. In the news story, Simmons described his actions that day as "just a whisper in the hell storm of fighting two summers past in Sangin."
"Littered with IEDs and an endless supply of enemy fighting positions carved out of thick mud walls, the fighting season commenced in May, and by June became the most kinetic battle space in Afghanistan," he said. "Nearly every day (they were) finding or initiating a hidden IED or repelling an enemy ambush with ferocity and guile. My words cannot describe the fidelity and devotion these men bore for each other as their fellow Marines and sailors were killed or received grotesque, life-changing injuries."
"Our successes should be attributed to the NCOs and Marines who put their lives in danger every day," he added.