MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif -- Family and close friends of Sgt. Wade D. Wilson gathered at Camp San Mateo, March 14, to honor him for giving the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.
Wilson, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was awarded the Silver Star Medal posthumously for his actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Following an improvised explosive device strike in Helmand province, May 11, 2012, an insurgent opened fire on Wilson’s platoon at close range with an AK47 assault rifle. Without any regard for his own safety, the native of Centerville, Texas, left his vehicle and put himself between his Marines and the enemy.
“I’m extremely proud of Wade,” said Capt. John D. Black, the aide de camp for the commanding general of 1st Marine Division. “He is a national hero and he did phenomenal things in Afghanistan. He’s one of the greatest Marines I’ve ever worked with.”
Wilson suffered multiple bullet wounds but continued to close in on the enemy, forcing the to withdraw. The insurgent was quickly killed by other members of Wilson’s platoon. His decisive actions saved the lives of several Marines that day.
“He would give the shirt off his back for you,” said Sgt. Anthony Crosby, a close friend of Wilson and the best man at Wilson’s wedding. “He’s the kind of guy who would give his life for a friend, and he did just that.”
Wilson was meritoriously promoted to private first class, lance corporal, and corporal. At the time of his death he was being recommended for meritorious selection to staff sergeant.
“Sgt. Wilson was probably the most proficient (non-commissioned officer) I have ever worked with,” said Black, who was Wilson’s platoon commander in Afghanistan. “He definitely cared about his Marines, and he showed it. He put in a lot of hard work and would talk to them on the side.”
Wilson’s actions came as little surprise to the Marines who knew him, and while filled with sorrow, they agreed if he had to go out this is how he would have wanted it.
“I wouldn’t expect any less from him,” said Crosby, from Kanab, Utah. “I was immensely proud of him, but like I said, I wasn’t surprised by his actions. That’s just who he was.”
Wilson’s family, including his mother, honored his sacrifice by receiving the medal on his behalf.
In addition to his own family and his 2nd Bn., 5th Marines brethren, Marines from various units who knew Wilson came to show their support. His ability to relate to Marines of every rank and befriend people in general, showed through the presence of Marines, sailors and family members who filled the parade deck.
“He had an uncanny ability to relate to junior Marines, Marines at his own level and with officers as well,” said Black, a native of Spokane, Wash. “He was phenomenal at being able to communicate across the whole spectrum of the Marine Corps.”
Crosby added that everyone loved Wilson, and his ability to connect with people was evidenced by more than 20 Marines from across the country coming to Texas to show their support after hearing the news of his death.
As service members of all ranks offered condolences to the Wilson family, Crosby summarized the somber moment.
“If he was here today, he would probably say he didn’t deserve the award,” said Crosby. “He would say he was just doing his job. For me, I’ll always remember to never give up. I know when he was shot he was hurting and he pushed through that. There is no excuse to give up when he didn’t.”