SEAL awarded Silver Star for combat actions in Al-Anbar Province

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from TotS March issue:

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Commodore Thomas Brown II (left), commander, Naval Special Warfare Group One, pins the Silver Star Medal on the uniform of Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Mitchell Hall in a ceremony at Naval Amphibious Coronado, Calif. Hall was recognized for his heroic combat actions in the Al-Anbar Province, Iraq. Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Antonio Ramos.

U.S. Navy SEAL, Chief Special Warfare Operator Mitchell Hall was awarded the military’s third-highest medal, the Silver Star, for conspicuous gallantry and heroic actions against the enemy while serving with Naval Special Warfare Task Unit – Habbaniyah. Commodore Thomas Brown II, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group One, presented Hall the medal at a ceremony held in the Naval Special Warfare Group One conference room with family, friends and shipmates. Though atmosphere was humble, formal and quiet, the heroic actions performed by Hall and his fellow squad members and the events leading up to this recognition is far above intrepid as depicted in the award citation, highlighted by a firefight that ensued April 2, 2007.

“I am not a man about awards,” said Hall. “I know there are others who could be up here with me, but more importantly, I would trade this for the health and careers of wounded teammates.”

During the 2007 deployment with SEAL Team Five, Hall’s teams conducted operations up and down the Euphrates River, near Habbaniyah, Al-Anbar Province. Hall’s team was called upon to create outposts to watch for suspected enemy activity overlooking key facilities and to provide support to Coalition forces operating in the area.

The task unit deployed two observation teams up the river to set up outposts in an area of interest. Hall, an attachment to SEAL Team Five from the Naval Special Warfare Center, was part of the mission to watch for and disrupt enemy activity in the insurgent stronghold of Albu Bali, northwest of Habbaniyah, Iraq. The squad of 20 personnel, including Iraqi commandos, took up positions to confirm or deny insurgent activity in the area and to observe a mosque and surrounding buildings for suspected enemy activity.

In the early hours of April 2, 2007, the radios began to squawk for assistance; a Marine Corps unit was pinned down by enemy sniper fire less than a kilometer away. Calls went out to the first observation post for assistance in the fray, and then the fighting subsided. “All was quiet for a short moment,” said Hall. “There were conversations across the network of suspicious people moving around our position. I was just about to conduct turnover at the end of my shift, when (Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class) Guerroro brought to my attention that someone was carrying an AK-47 outside our position.”

Hall recalls scrambling up to the top level of the abandoned house with Marc Robins, a SEAL who was severely injured in the battle. A barrage of small-arms fire could be heard nearby as the first post stirred up a hornet’s nest of fighters. An insurgent in the street was confirmed to have a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, while another was seen firing toward the previous fray’s positions. Skillfully, Hall and Robins killed them with precision rifle fire, and then more insurgents shooting from buildings and alleys sent a wall of bullets toward Hall’s position.

“Suddenly, I saw Marc’s head snap back and he sat exposed to the incoming rain of bullets,” said Hall. “I wasn’t sure if he was dead or not, but I got up and pulled him prone behind our barricade.” Quickly, the fight escalated, resulting in the Coalition forces taking cover and becoming pinned behind walls and barricades.

Hall repeatedly exposed himself to heavy fire to engage the enemy and provide suppressive fire for his teammates. He and his squad then worked to secure a helicopter landing zone for the wounded SEAL’s extraction.

“Hall acted with great skill to save an injured teammate. His heroic actions battling insurgents that day in Albu Bali is part of the story of Naval Special Warfare’s remarkable work in defeating the insurgency in the west part of Iraq,” said Brown.
 
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