A Marine Raider who sprinted through enemy fire to man an exposed shooting position in the back of an open truck and successfully broke an ambush by ISIS militants in Iraq was awarded the military’s third highest award for valor on Oct. 30.
For his actions under fire, Staff Sgt. Patrick Maloney, a multi-purpose canine handler with the Camp Lejeune North Carolina-based 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, was presented the Bronze Star with “V” device by the commander of Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, Maj. Gen. Carl Mundy III.
With hundreds of special operators deployed to battlefields in Iraq and Syria, medal citations like Maloney’s offer a glimpse at the heroism and dangers faced by those elite troops operating on the ground — and, as Military.com’s Hope Hodge Seck notes, provide details of combat operations often kept out of the public’s eye.
Though the exact location of the ambush has not been confirmed, Maloney and his team were on a ridgetop recon mission along the Kurdish Defensive Line surrounding the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq on Aug. 27, 2016, when the ambush occurred, according to Military.com. The Marines were providing security from an observation post overlooking Islamic State-held turf when the Raiders were ambushed by militants some 500 meters west of their position. The onslaught of small-arms and machine gun fire pinned three Raiders down behind a vehicle.
That’s when Maloney took action. Sprinting across open ground, he leapt into back of an open truck to man a Peshmerga heavy machine gun, where according to his citation, he remained “deliberately exposed to withering fire,” and “laid deadly suppressive fire on the enemy fighting positions.”
But disaster seemed poised to strike, when not once, but twice, Maloney’s weapon malfunctioned. Yet each time the weapon jammed Maloney kept his cool — even as enemy rounds flew past — and got the weapon back up, and rounds back on target.
“His fearless actions and fierce suppression gained fire superiority and enabled his teammates to return safely to covered positions,” the citation continues.
With the three Raiders no longer pinned down, the initiative swung back in the Marines’ favor, as they continued fighting until the enemy ambush was broken, and the attackers withdrew. But it wasn’t the last tough scrape Maloney would be in on that deployment — his fifth tour.
Months after the harrowing firefight, Maloney suffered a head injury during another engagement on Dec. 30, 2016, according to an online fundraiser organized by his family, Jeff Schogol and Andrew deGrandpre of Military Times reported on Jan. 2.
Maloney is currently assigned to the Wounded Warrior Regiment.