Corporal Miguel Madrigal, 27, of Bakersfield, earned the Silver Star for his actions under fire in Afghanistan.
On February 15, 2010, Madrigal was a member of a squad patrol that was pinned down in an ambush in Marjah, a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan.
Leaving his covered position, Madrigal ran into enemy fire in order to rescue a wounded Marine.
But that was not where his heroic actions ended.
The radio operator, who was trained at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, coordinated a helicopter attack on enemy positions and then organized an evacuation for the wounded Marine.
Sgt. Maj. James Booker with Marine Forces Reserve, who was also honored with a Silver Star, was impressed with Madrigal’s response under fire.
“First he was already controlling aircraft, then to rush out in front of enemy fire, then to apply a tourniquet to save somebody’s life, then call for a bird to come in and then find out it’s too difficult to get in and wave that bird off, there are five or six layers to that and sometimes you only hit one or two of those layers,” Booker said.
He deflected the attention from himself.
"It's not just me. It's the rest of the team," he said.
Wife Eileen Madrigal and parents Lydia and Manuel Madrigal attended the ceremony Thursday.
“Ever since he was a little boy, he’s always been a brave little boy,” said mother Lydia Madrigal trying to hold back tears of joy.
Eileen Madrigal said when she considers the danger her husband was facing, she feels very blessed.
“You appreciate him more. You appreciate life in general. It could’ve been a whole different story,” she said. “But now you live every day and you’re more proud. You just really appreciate him.”
“I think he’s very brave. I think he did the right thing. I think he did what he had to do. What he said he would do and that shows a lot of who he is,” she said.
The Silver Star is the U.S. military’s third highest award for valor.