An Okinawa-based gunnery sergeant received the nation’s second-highest valor award during a ceremony Thursday at Camp Butler.
Pinned between a cliff and a 50-foot drop, then-Staff Sgt. John Mosser and his fellow members of Marine Special Operations Team 1 engaged in a heated battle with insurgents in Afghanistan’s Herat province on June 26, 2008. Along with another MSOT, the Marines were searching for a “high-value” target known to be hiding deep within the mountainous surroundings.
As they traversed a narrow, winding passageway through the valley, they were confronted by a red pick-up truck blocking their path and a white Toyota Land Cruiser just off the roadway to the east. Within moments they heard the pops of sniper and machine-gun fire rip down the valley.
With a towering cliff on one side and a 50-foot drop to a dry river bed on the other, they were trapped and fighting an unseen enemy high above them. The battle left one Marine dead, several others wounded and, ultimately, earned several of them valor awards.
Mosser is credited with braving enemy fire repeatedly to rescue and treat wounded comrades. Then, “with the entire patrol desperately pinned down,” he devised a plan to break contact and extract his team, according to his medal citation.
He is credited with saving 22 lives.