Two California-based Marines are scheduled to receive Navy Cross awards on Friday for their actions during separate battles in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.
The recipients are Sgt. Cliff Wooldridge of Twentynine Palms and Sgt. Christopher Farias of Camp Pendleton. The Navy Cross is the nation’s second-highest award for combat valor, below only the Medal of Honor.
Wooldridge, a member of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, is credited with fending off a Taliban ambush in close-quarters battle on June 18, 2010, in Musa Qala.
During the engagement, Wooldridge snatched a machine gun from the hands of an enemy fighter and, following a tense struggle on the ground, killed his opponent by striking him in the head with the weapon’s butt stock. The remaining Taliban then retreated, ending a potentially deadly ambush against Wooldridge’s platoon, according to an account of the battle provided to Marine Corps Times in late 2010.
I have a recollection of Sgt. Wooldridge killing the Taliban. I seem to remember the story first coming out soon after 3/7 returned stateside. I'm pretty sure his Sgt. Major said Sgt. Wooldridge was recommended for the Medal Of Honor.
I think the mistake the enemy made was leading with the barrel of his weapon before rounding the corner of a building, which allowed Sgt. Wooldridge to grab the weapon by the barrel. As I recall, Sgt. Wooldridge was a high school wrestler, football player, and a pretty good size guy.