I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize and congratulate one of my fellow team members, SSgt. William Burch. Billy was recently awarded the Silver Star for his heroics while serving with Marine Special Operations Team 8222 in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan 2010.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as an Element Member, Marine Special Operations Team, Marine Special Operations Company G, Special Operations Task Force 81, on 6 April 2010 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  During a combat reconnaissance patrol, Sgt Burch’s element came under heavy enemy contact from an insurgent held compound.  While attempting to assault the building, Sgt Burch was wounded when an enemy rocket propelled grenade exploded within feet of him, launching shrapnel into his left leg.  After giving himself first aid, he continued to engage the enemy locations and direct Afghan National Army Commandos to continue firing on enemy positions.

Sgt Burch continued to clear compounds with Commandos, most engagements taking place in very close quarters, requiring the use of fragmentation grenades, others requiring close air support to reduce enemy fortifications.  Later in the fight, Sgt Burch volunteered to reinforce a support by fire position on an exposed hillside that had taken several casualties from the fighting already.  He sprinted up the hill while enemy fire impacted all around him, took up a machinegun position, and immediately began providing effective fire onto enemy locations.  When given the word to withdraw, Sgt Burch continued to suppress enemy location until all friendly forces were off the hill. His actions throughout the 10-hour firefight facilitated the destruction of dozens of enemy fighters and saved the lives of his fellow Marines, U.S. Soldiers, and ANA Commandos.  By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Sergeant Burch reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

If you ever found yourself in a bad situation with the enemy and odds stacked against you, Billy is the type of person you want on your side. This award is only one example of Billy’s tremendous loyalty and dedication to the mission, his country and his fellow teammates. This is what a MARSOC Operator is.

(Top photo: SSgt. Burch in Bala Murghab, Afghanistan)

Dedicated to the loving memory and sacrifice of GySgt. Robert L. Gilbert & SSgt. Patrick R. Dolphin

Level Zero Heroes | The Story of U.S. Marine SOF in Bala Morghab, Afghanistan