By Master Sgt. Eric LobsingerFebruary 2, 2007
Command Sgt. Maj. Ron Riling said he's honored to be awarded the Silver Star, but he'd gladly give it back if it would bring back the 12 Marines who lost their lives in Rammadi, Iraq, April 6.
"I'd do it in a heartbeat," Riling said. "That would be my reward, to let those kids be still alive. I'd do it in a minute."
Riling, who serves as the 4th Infantry Division's command sergeant major, was serving with 1st Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, when he and his brigade commander, Col. Buck Connor, were notified Marines attached to their brigade were pinned down by enemy fire.
Riling quickly organized his forces and began moving to the embattled Marines. When they entered the main town of Rammadi, they immediately came under direct fire coming from every direction, he said.
The Marine squad had been pinned down by snipers when Riling, Connor and their physical-security detachment fought their way through withering enemy fire and linked up with them.
Riling also directed two Bradley Fighting Vehicles to fire on insurgents attacking another Marine platoon in the area. They saw the insurgent run into a building and had one of the Bradleys knock down a fence surrounding the house. Riling crashed through that door, killing the insurgent hiding behind it.
Riling said his actions that day were just those of a soldier doing his job.
"I don't claim to be a hero for getting this award. I don't want to be labeled as a hero. I felt I was just another soldier on the battlefield, doing my job, helping other soldiers and helping Marines," Riling explained.