Soldier gets Distinguished Service Cross for heroism with Marines

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Staff Sgt. Corey M. Calkins shakes hands with Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, after receiving the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions alongside Marines in Marjah, Afghanistan, in 2010. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Marcus Butler/Army)

Combat operations are rarely as simple as Marines serving exclusively with Marines, or soldiers serving exclusively with soldiers. There’s no better recent example of this than Army Staff Sgt. Corey Calkins, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for heroism serving alongside Marines.

On Feb. 18, 2010, Calkins was serving in Marjah, Afghanistan, a Taliban stronghold that had been assaulted by Marine forces only days before. As part of a dismounted reconnaissance patrol consisting of U.S. soldiers, Marines and Afghan National Security Forces, Calkins led an attack on a platoon-sized group of insurgents in fortified positions in the bazaar near Marjah, according to his award citation.

“In the face of intense small arms, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire, Staff Sergeant Calkins’ undaunted charge inspired the Afghan National Army Company to overrun the enemy positions, pursue the insurgents and prevent them from reorganizing,” the citation says.

“After securing the intersection and surrounding area, Staff Sergeant Calkins voluntarily resumed his assault fifteen hundred meters north, driving the enemy fighters out of the range of small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, allowing the evacuation of three critically wounded Marines,” according to the citation.

Calkins was initially awarded the Silver Star last year for his actions in the battle. However, the award was upgraded recently to a Distinguished Service Cross, the Army’s equivalent to a Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for combat valor awards.

The DSC was presented last month at Fort Bragg by Adm. William McRaven, head of U.S. Special Operations Command. In a news release, Calkins deflected praise.

“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award,” he said. “I was just the one called on that day but I know any other guy on my team would have done the same thing.”

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I’m a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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