A Navy corpsman will receive the nation’s third-highest valor award Friday for taking out a rogue Afghan commando who tried to kill U.S. and Italian special operators in an insider attack.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Alejandro Salabarria will be awarded the Silver Star for heroic actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2014 with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion. The award will be presented by Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commander of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
During the 2014 deployment, Salabarria and the Marine Raiders were operating alongside Italian and Afghan special operators when a rogue Afghan commando turned on the team. Within seconds, several men had been wounded causing “overwhelming chaos across the formation,” according to a Marine Corps press release.
Salabarria quickly maneuvered into the kill zone to shield a severely wounded corpsman and take out the attacker. With the threat neutralized, the Miami native treated two wounded team members and coordinated a helicopter medical evacuation.
“His bold actions ultimately saved the lives of his fellow team members and Afghan Commando partners,” the release states.
Fifteen of the 16 sailors to receive the prestigious Silver Star since Sept. 11, 2001, have been corpsmen, according to the Defense Department. That includes Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Kevin Baskin, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with MARSOC, who was awarded the medal in March for risking his life to treat Marines under enemy fire in 2013 in Afghanistan's Herat province.
The Marine Corps has awarded 136 Silver Stars as of Feb. 1. This includes Staff Sgt. Robert Van Hook, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion who received his medal last month.
Van Hook organized a hasty ambush on 10 insurgents in the Herat province in 2013. After wounding two and killing four, he led an attack on an enemy-held building with hand grenades and small arms, killing another insurgent and helping detain two others.
Lance M. Bacon is a senior reporter for Marine Corps Times. He covers Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Marine Corps Forces Command, personnel and career issues, Marine Corps Logistics Command and East Coast Marines. He can be reached at email@example.com.