Apr 09 , 2022
Sgt. Clifford Wooldridge, combat weapons instructor, Marine Corps Security Forces Regiment, Chesapeake, Virginia., stands at attention after receiving the Navy Cross Medal, May 18, 2012.U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Sarah Anderson
On June 17, 2010, Marine Cpl. Clifford Wooldridge was in a convoy when their vehicles came under heavy enemy fire from a group of Taliban fighters in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Spotting a group of 15 fighters, Wooldridge and his men dismounted and moved across open ground to flank the enemy, killing or wounding eight and forcing the remainder to scatter. Following the gunbattle, Wooldridge remained behind to cover his team’s withdrawal, but heard voices from behind an adjacent mud wall. Rushing around the corner, he came face-to-face with two enemy fighters, and opened fire at point blank range, killing both with his M249 SAW.
According to Wooldridge’s Navy Cross award citation, as he moved back behind the wall to reload, he spotted the barrel of an enemy machine gun poking around the corner. Without hesitating, Wooldridge dropped his empty weapon and seized the barrel of the enemy fighter’s machine gun. As the two grappled in hand-to-hand combat, the Taliban fighter reached for a grenade attached to Wooldridge’s flak jacket, intending to pull the pin and kill them both. Overpowering his attacker, Wooldridge took hold of the enemy’s weapon and then beat the man to death with it.
AWARDED FOR ACTIONS
DURING Global War on Terror
Service: Marine Corps
Battalion: 3d Battalion
Division: 1s Marine Division (Forward)
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Corporal Clifford M. Wooldridge, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving as Vehicle Commander, Combined Anti-Armor Platoon White, Weapons Company, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2, FIRST Marine Division (Forward), I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Afghanistan, on 18 June 2010 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. When their mounted patrol came under intense enemy fire, Corporal Wooldridge and his squad dismounted and maneuvered on the suspected enemy location. Spotting a group of fifteen enemy fighters preparing an ambush, Corporal Wooldridge led one of his fire teams across open ground to flank the enemy, killing or wounding at least eight and forcing the rest to scatter. As he held security alone to cover his fire team's withdrawal, he heard voices from behind an adjacent wall. Boldly rushing around the corner, he came face-to-face with two enemy fighters at close range, killing both of them with his M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon. As he crouched back behind the wall to reload, he saw the barrel of an enemy machine gun appear from around the wall. Without hesitation, he dropped his empty weapon and seized the machine gun barrel. He overwhelmed the enemy fighter in hand-to-hand combat, killing him with several blows to the head with the enemy's own machine gun. His audacious and fearless actions thwarted the enemy attack on his platoon. By his bold and decisive leadership, undaunted courage under fire, and total dedication to duty, Corporal Wooldridge reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.