A new headquarters building at the Marine Corps' Advanced Infantry Training Battalion will honor a fallen noncommissioned officer who earned the Navy Cross during the battle that took his life.
Marine officials will dedicate the new facility named for Cpl. Michael Ouellette at Camp Geiger, North Carolina, on Wednesday. The infantry squad leader was posthumously awarded the service's second-highest valor award for actions during a 2009 deployment to Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.
On March 22, 2009, Ouellette was leading his squad on a combat patrol in Helmand province's Now Zad district when an improvised explosive device detonated under his feet. The blast severed the corporal's left leg and sprayed his right upper thigh and groin area with shrapnel.
Hospitalman 3rd Class Matthew Nolan raced over to stop the massive loss of blood. Ouellette continued calling out orders and directed his squad to defend against incoming enemy fire as the corpsman applied tourniquets.
"He's still telling the radio operator what to call in for helos, what to call in for mortars ... making sure that his assistant team leader ... has everything under control," Nolan told Marine Corps Times in 2010.
Ouellette helped guide his radio operator's communication when attack helicopters arrived to suppress the enemy. The squad leader only allowed himself to be evacuated once all of his Marines were able to move out of the area.
The corporal later died from his wounds, but Nolan said he was still breathing and conscious when he was evacuated. The last thing the corpsman heard Ouellette say was: "I'm proud of my Marines."
Cpl. Anthony Williams, a 21-year-old combat engineer, was also killed in the attack.
Ouellette's family and Marine commanders are expected to attend Wednesday's building dedication, according to a Marine Corps press release.
The Advanced Infantry Training Battalion Headquarters building is part of School of Infantry-East. Combat instructors there train, mentor and evaluate Marines recently assigned to combat-arms military occupational specialties, according to its website. Camp Geiger is a satellite facility of Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, North Carolina. It serves as the next stop for enlisted Marines who train at the service's East Coast recruit depot.
Charlsy Panzino covers veterans education, employment and transition issues, as well as travel, entertainment and fitness. Email her at email@example.com.