Navy SEAL from IB Awarded Silver, Bronze stars


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

Joseph Molina insists he’s no hero, but his country says differently.
A Navy SEAL who grew up in Imperial Beach, he was awarded the Silver and Bronze stars last week for his actions in Afghanistan in 2009.
In one instance, he led his platoon through a fierce two-day firefight that ended with 56 enemy dead and zero casualties for his platoon. That got him the Silver Star, the third highest medal awarded for valor.
He won the Bronze star for leading his platoon in a rescue of an Army detachment that had been ambushed and was surrounded. In that case, his platoon took out 22 insurgents. Again, they didn’t lose a man.
Molina, a chief special warfare operator for the elite Sea Air Land force, shot that suggestion down cold.
“It’s about the team,” said Molina, 31, whose father was a Navy SEAL for three decades. “It’s not about the individual.”
Molina was one of five men awarded either Silver or Bronze stars for their duty in Afghanistan during a ceremony Friday at the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado. Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy, made the presentation.
One of those honored, Gerardo Sosa, a Navy explosive ordnance disposal chief, was featured in an earlier Union-Tribune story. He won a Silver Star for rescuing the leader of his explosive disposal team who had been severely injured by an IED blast.
But the other honorees weren’t mentioned earlier because three are Navy SEALs and they traditionally shy from publicity. Two declined to be interviewed.
They’ve since been named by the Navy. They include Jared K. Tuxill, a senior chief special warfare operator who was awarded the Silver Star. Even though wounded after encountering three Afghan insurgents, he managed to return fire. He then assisted other wounded teammates to safety.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Thomas Shea was awarded a Bronze Star. He was involved in the rescue of a Special Forces team that had been ambushed and surrounded. During a daylong battle, “he personally executed an airstrike that killed two fighters and achieved a high-angle sniper kill at 1,100 yards,” according to the medal citation.
Lt. Cmdr. John Green was also awarded a Bronze Star. He, too, played a key role in rescuing a pinned down Special Forces units. He volunteered his task unit to take part in the counterattack.
Molina didn’t exactly rush to be interviewed. Molina, who’s married with a daughter, agreed only because he thought it was important that his brothers — fellow SEALs and other military personnel — get recognition for what they do.
“It’s not about me.”
That firefight? Well, it sure seems like it was a little bit about him, regardless of what he says. According to the Silver Star citation, he led two other SEALs through “a hail of gunfire” to retake a critical rooftop position that they earlier had to flee because of enemy fire. He took out two insurgents in the process.
Once there, “he repeatedly exposed himself in order to direct heavy weapons fire onto enemy positions and return fire.”
Not so, he said. His performance was “an exhibit” of his training, he said. “It’s above and beyond anything that exists in the world,” he said.
The other action took place just two days later. According to the Bronze Star citation, it sure seems like Molina took a big role in the effort to save that detached Army unit, which had suffered three casualties from the ambush.
More certainly would have perished if not for the platoon coming to the rescue.
“Personally engaging insurgents with precision sniper fire, Chief Molina heroically led his platoon during a daylong battle...”
But that those actions were hardly all he and his brethren went through. According to the citation, this is what his platoon did during its six-month tour:
It engaged the enemy in 300 hours of combat.
It killed 181 insurgents.
No, no and no again, Molina said. He said he was humbled to be recognized with the medals, which are rare. Only 77 Silver Stars have been awarded to Naval Special Warfare personnel since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He felt a connection to all of those who were part of the ceremony.
All of them are as deserving, he said.
It just turned out he was one of those singled out. It’s not a feeling he’s accustomed to.
“We’re all fighting the same mission.”
Websters Dictionary should remove the definition of humility and just make reference to Humility see Chief Molina/
"My loyalty to Country and Team is beyond reproach. I humbly serve as a guardian to my fellow Americans always ready to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. I do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions. I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own."

An excerpt from the Navy SEAL Ethos. The meaning of these words seem to manifest themselves throughout Chief Molina's interview.