Sgt. Philip A. McCulloch, then with 3rd Recruit Training Battalion aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, speaks with Staff Sgt. James D. Walters (ret.) at McCulloch's Silver Star award ceremony on Feb. 10, 2012. After he was stabbed in Galveston, Texas, on Saturday, his mother reached out to his comrades from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. (Cpl. Matthew Lemieux/Marine Corps)
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A veteran Marine who received the Silver Star last year is in the hospital after being stabbed in the neck over the weekend. Now fellow Marines from his unit in Afghanistan are rallying to his side.
Philip McCulloch Jr., 25, received a serious knife wound from a stranger outside a waterfront bar in Galveston, Texas, at about 1 a.m. Saturday, according to police reports. He had medically retired from the Marines as a sergeant in April after being pinned with the military’s third-highest combat award in February 2012.
McCulloch’s mother, Theresa McCulloch, said her son had been out with friends and ended up at a bar where another patron, noticing his Marine tattoos, began insulting and harassing him. The bartender eventually threw the unruly patron out, she said, but he waited outside for McCulloch to emerge.
The two fought in the street, she said, and the other man stabbed McCulloch in the neck with a knife, slicing into his outer jugular. As he bled profusely, she said, he gave instructions to a friend on how to staunch the flow of blood with his fingers.
“Thank God he was a Marine,” she said, adding that he would have otherwise bled out from the wound.
A spokesman for the Galveston Police Department, Lt. Michael Gray, said officials were investigating the incident and had not yet made an arrest. Because the attack remained under investigation, he said, he could not provide details beyond what was listed in the police report, which confirmed McCulloch had been the victim of an aggravated assault with a knife.
Another bystander called 911 and McCulloch was taken to University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. At the hospital, Theresa McCulloch said, McCulloch required seven hours of surgery and seven units of blood — five that night and two the next morning. He sustained nerve damage in the stabbing that will require weeks of hospitalization and more surgery, she said, but he was conscious and recovering.
Following the stabbing, Theresa McCulloch sent out a Facebook message asking Marines from McCulloch’s former unit, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, to come visit their old battle buddy at the hospital. In just a few days, she said, she has fielded over two dozen calls.
“My phone has just been blowing up,” she said. “They've been rolling in to visit him. The Marines are his first family and his heart.”
Though in pain, McCulloch is still encouraging other Marines to come visit, she said.
McCulloch earned his Silver Star on Jan. 8, 2011, while deployed to Afghanistan as a squad leader with Kilo Company, 3/5. According to his medal citation, he led his Marines through a six-hour engagement to drive back a group of insurgents who outnumbered them, exposing himself to enemy fire to identify enemy positions and coordinate air and ground strikes. The Marines destroyed a number of enemy positions in the engagement.