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Marine receives Bronze Star for valor in Syria after vehicle hit by ISIS missile

U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. John Williams, platoon sergeant, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, is awarded the Bronze Star with Valor device by U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jason R. Goodale, commanding officer, at Lance Cpl. Torrey Gray Field, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., March 14, 2019. The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, after December 6, 1941, while serving in any capacity with the Armed Forces of the United States, distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Rachel K. Young)
May 17, 2019

A U.S. Marine was awarded the Bronze Star for his valor during a 2018 battle in Syria between ISIS fighters and the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines.

Staff Sgt. John Williams was the 81 mm mortar section leader with his unit during the attack when their vehicle was hit by an ISIS anti-tank guided missile, causing several injuries including the driver who was seriously wounded, according to the Marine Corps Times.

Williams suffered a concussion but that didn’t stop him. He was able to relay the locations of the ISIS fighters to his section, keep firing at the approaching enemy, and tend to the injured driver by applying multiple tourniquets to his legs and carrying him to safety.

Williams then returned to the vehicle to retrieve any sensitive information and withdraw his unit.

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In March, he received the Bronze Star with “V” device for valor at a ceremony at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Marine Forces Central Command told Marine Corps Times that Williams was the fourth recipient to be awarded a Bronze Star. They have awarded 47 Purple Hearts since 2016 for Operation Inherent Resolve, and one Silver Star to a Marine Raider for his actions in Operation Inherent Resolve, The Marine Corps Times stated.

Williams’ Bronze Star prompts the U.S. to remember that the blood-stained war in Syria is still alive and well and anti-tank systems still pose a danger to coalition forces.

Syria is overflowing with anti-tank guided missile systems and there is an abundance of them that have been around since the first phase of the civil war in Syria.

A covert program was formerly underway and sponsored by the CIA that supplied American anti-tank missiles to approved groups that were against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Trump canceled the program in 2017 because some of “the weapons got in the hands of a rebel group tied to Al Qaeda,” The New York Times reported.

Over the past 10 years, the anti-tank guided missile systems have advanced significantly, allowing Middle East coalition forces to continue to fight.

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John Gordon, an analyst with Rand said, “The modern ATGM can penetrate 1,000 millimeters or more of cold-rolled steel plate. These things are now in the hands of groups like ISIS, the Taliban and Hezbollah, and increasing numbers of nonstate military forces.”