MarSOC Marine receives Silver Star


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

An operator with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command received the military’s third-highest award Wednesday for valor during a 10-hour firefight in Afghanistan.
Staff Sgt. William E. Burch, an element member of Marine Special Operations Company G, Special Operations Task Force 81, was awarded the Silver Star by MarSOC commander Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre at a ceremony in the presence of his unit members and family.
According to Burch’s award citation, he was on patrol with his element April 6, 2010 when his unit came under heavy fire from an enemy compound. Burch took shrapnel in the leg from a rocket-propelled grenade while trying to assault the building, but didn’t let his wound take him out of the fight. He treated his own injuries, then proceeded to fire upon the insurgents again, directing commandos with the Afghan National Army to assist him.
Later, in spite of his wound, Burch sprinted up a hill to take charge of an unmanned machine gun position and remained there, firing upon the enemy until all friendly troops had withdrawn from the hill.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 Afghan National Army Commandos,” Burch’s citation reads.
Lefebvre began his address at the ceremony by reading an admiring passage from a well-worn copy of the 1981 military classic, “With the Old Breed: at Peleliu and Okinawa.”
“No matter how low morale got, he was always there, like some inexhaustible dynamo,” Lefebvre read.
Then Lefebvre read a detailed summary of Burch’s combat actions that April day.
“Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it,” he said.
Following the ceremony, Burch remained modest about his heroism.
“I’m honored, there’s nothing else to say about that,” he said. “I’m just trying to do my job, that’s all there is to it.”
Burch said he was proud to be following in the footsteps of his father, William Burch, who served as a Marine in Vietnam.
Burch’s mother, Christine, and wife, Lauren Burch, had more to say.
“You know you raise your child to be the best that he can be, but he has so far exceeded my thinking and the thinking of the whole family,” said Christine Burch, who traveled to Stone Bay from Lake City, Fla., to attend the ceremony.
Lauren said Burch lived for what he did in the Corps.
“He loves the Marine Corps. He loves his team 8s,” she said. “As he would say, it’s just another fun day at work.”
According to MarSOC officials, Burch is the ninth Marine or sailor to receive a Silver Star since the command activated in 2006. In that time, members of MarSOC have received three times as many of the awards as has “big Marine Corps,” Lefebvre said.
Next month, the command’s tenth Silver Star will be awarded posthumously to Sgt. William J. Woitowicz, another member of Burch’s unit, at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico.