MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, honored a fallen brother who fought and died with valor in 2011 in Sangin, Afghanistan.
Corporal Gurpreet Singh lived by the saying, “All gave some. Some gave all,” to the deepest sense of the phrase.
On May 30, Singh was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor posthumously for heroic service in Sangin district.
Singh, a rifleman, was raised in Punjab, India, until he was 10 years old when his family immigrated to Sacramento, Calif.
Growing up with a Sikhism background, Singh was proud of his heritage and was inspired by Sikh warrior gurus who risked their lives to fight against terrorism, said Manpreet Kaur, Singh’s sister.
“When he was younger, he always looked up to people who fought wars,” Kaur said. “He would see the military men who sacrificed so much and would look up to them. He admired the courage of how people in the military could be facing death, but would choose not to run away from it.”
Singh wasted no time joining the military and enlisted as an infantryman in the Marine Corps when he was just 17 years old. Upon graduating from boot camp and Infantry Training Battalion, Singh was assigned to 1st Bn., 5th Marines.
On May 24, 2009, Singh had his first chance to fulfill his dream of fighting against terrorism when he deployed to Nawa district, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
During his deployment, Singh survived fierce firefights and felt lucky to be safe, said Kaur.
Upon completing his first combat tour, Singh was assigned to temporary additional duty in Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. After six months of duty, he returned to 1st Bn., 5th Marines, on Camp Pendleton and requested an extension of his contract, allowing him to deploy once more to Afghanistan with the battalion’s Bravo Company.
As stated in his award citation, while operating out of Sangin district, Helmand province, Singh served as a fire team leader and led his Marines on daily patrols through insurgent infested areas. Despite being struck in his front body armor by small-arms fire on June 4, 2011, he remained undeterred and continued to bravely lead his Marines.
On June 22, 2011, while leading his Marines through a dangerous area, Singh was struck down by enemy fire.
“He is a brave man and it humbles me as a leader to lead Marines like that,” said Capt. Ryan Hunt, the Bravo Company commander during Singh’s deployment. “After deploying to Nawa district, he had the opportunity to go somewhere else or could have filled another billet to take a break. He chose to come back to deploy again with his brothers.”
Hunt, a native of Grand Coulee, Wash., said Singh didn’t lead his Marines through fear, but led through consistent mentorship and by his own example.
After Singh’s first deployment, he came back with a different mindset and realized life was too short, said Kaur. He started to hang out with his friends more, call home often and visit his family as much as he could. When they found out he was deploying again, he had his family’s full support.
“He truly lived life to its fullest and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Kaur added.