CampPendleton Marine to get Silver Star Sgt.Ryan Sotelo fought in Sangin, Afghanistan with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines
A Camp Pendleton Marine is being awarded the Silver Star for his service in Sangin, Afghanistan. Sgt. Ryan Sotelo, 29, of San Mateo, will be issued the nation’s third-highest honor for valor in combat during a ceremony at the Marine Corps base on Friday.
The former squad leader with 2nd Platoon, Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment took charge On Thanksgiving Day 2010 after his platoon commander was fatally shot, according to the citation released Friday.
Sotelo was unavailable to comment about his Silver Star, but U-T San Diego spent more than two weeks with his battalion in Afghanistan last year.
At the time, he recounted the firefight that had occurred a few months before. He remembered calling to theMarine commander ****e in the dirt, as the others laid down suppressive fire.
“Get up! We got you,” they yelled. But he didn’t move.
Sotelo and an engineer, Sgt.Patrique Fearon, sprinted to him through bursts of enemy machine-gun fire.
1st Lt. William Donnelly, the 27-year-old officer in charge of their platoon, had been excited to set out that day at dawn to hunt for a Taliban commander’s house. He wanted the squad to “smack the enemy in the face and let them know they couldn’t keep attacking(patrol base) Transformer,” Sotelo recalled.
Finding him motionless on the ground was a shock. They had no time to dwell on it just then. But Donnelly was more than their commander. He was a good friend, a likable guy who was always laughing. He would buy rice and potatoes from the locals to supplement their packaged rations and cook it up in the grimy little power station they called home.
Sotelo and Fearon dragged Donnelly’s body into the cover of a ditch while enemy fighters continued their barrage. “They were right on top of us,” Sotelo recalled. “It was getting bad real fast.” Sotelo led the Marines out of the ambush. They fought almost a mile back to base carrying his lifeless body.
The squad leader is loyal to his platoon commander. The quotes from Sgt. Sotelo about 1st Lieutenant Donnelly suggest the platoon commander had earned his respect and loyalty. I'm sure Lieutenant Donnelly's family is deeply appreciative to Sgt. Sotelo for securing his body and with the help of his Marines returning him back to base while at the same time bringing in the rest of the platoon.