Staff Sgt. Alec Haralovich recieves the Silver Star in August 2012. Shortly after receiving the Basilone Award, he left to begin a nearly year-long volunteer deployment to train foreign forces overseas. (Sgt. Ray Lewis / Marine Corps)
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A recent Silver Star recipient has earned another major award, becoming the first Marine reservist to receive the Gunnery Sgt. John Basilone Award for Courage and Commitment.
Staff Sgt. Alec Haralovich accepted the award May 19 in a ceremony in Joliet, Ill., home to the headquarters of Echo Company, 4th Reconnaissance Battalion. The award goes annually to a noncommissioned officer who upholds “the ultimate attributes of what it means to be a United States Marine,” according to a website for the award. It is named after the only enlisted Marine in World War II to earn both the Medal of Honor, the nation’s top combat valor award, and the Navy Cross, its second highest.
Haralovich received the Silver Star, the third highest combat award, in August for heroism in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Oct. 4, 2011. According to his award citation, he was pushing through the Upper Sangin Valley on foot with an element of 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Okinawa, Japan, when the Marines were ambushed by insurgents hiding less than 75 meters away. At least one enemy round slammed into his body armor, knocking him to the ground, but he kept his head and ordered other Marines to covered positions as the enemy fire intensified.
Haralovich is credited with maneuvering on the enemy fighters, then launching a rocket — an M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon, or LAW — on their position, destroying it. That led to a bold assault that forced the insurgents to scramble away and took pressure off his fellow Marines.
“With the enemy withdrawing, Staff Sergeant Haralovich then led his team to the flank of the enemy’s first position, forcing their withdrawal and relieving the pressure on the remainder of the patrol,” his citation states. “He then led the pursuit of the retreating enemy forces for the next two hours.”
Haralovich said in a Marine Corps news release that he was honored to receive the Basilone Award and “end up being in the same roles as reconnaissance legends” like Gunnery Sgt. John Mosser and Master Sgt. Brian Blonder, Navy Cross recipients who later received the Basilone award. Haralovich was about to leave on a volunteer deployment, the news release said, and could not be reached for comment.
In an interview last fall with the Juneau Empire newspaper in Alaska, where he went to high school, Haralovich said he scrambled to fire the rocket at insurgents because he could see the incoming fire was separating his unit. One service member was grazed by an enemy round in the thigh, and another Marine in the unit had his water pouch blown off by another round, he said.
Haralovich said in a Marine Corps news release last fall that he knew he was a target when taking aim with the LAW, but was emboldened after seeing other Marines in the unit taking fire in the ambush.
“I was really angry,” he said. “I was angry because it basically was like they had duped us, they had out maneuvered us, outsmarted us.”