MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, North Carolina -- Sgt. Matthew S. Parker (ret.), received a Silver Star medal on base March 18, 2016.
The Silver Star is the third highest military combat decoration and was awarded to Parker for his bravery and composure during an attack in Afghanistan on May 21, 2011, while he was deployed as a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment during Operation Enduring Freedom. Parker courageously assumed control as the ground force commander after several leaders had been injured, called in fire support and evacuated casualties.
The award was presented by Maj. Gen. Brian Beaudreault, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, who expressed his appreciation for what Parker did that day.
“You represented everything we want to teach in honor, courage, commitment and the warrior’s ethos… and for that I’m greatly indebted to you,” Beaudreault said. “You did everything we would want and hope for every Marine NCO leading a formation to do.”
Beaudreault said that much of the success of that day was due to Parker being able to apply his training when he needed to most.
“He knew how to coordinate air support, he knew how to coordinate high arms support, he knew how to maneuver forces, he knew how to employ heavy machine guns, and he knew how to employ the organic weapons systems relative to his squads and we won,” Beaudreault said. “We won on that day.”
Parker was not the only one to step up that day. Parker noted that several lance corporals took charge of higher positions, including his own, while he led the platoon.
“They led their Marines the way they were supposed to,” Parker said, directed at the junior Marines who were in formation for the ceremony. “I just want you to know I appreciate you. I didn’t do anything special; I just did what I was supposed to do and I’m lucky that I had good Marines who were backing me up.”
Parker enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2002 and was deployed in support of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2013, he deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Sergeant Parker was medically retired in 2015. His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon with one Gold Star, and Good Conduct Medal with two Bronze Stars.