News: San Francisco Marine awarded Bronze Star for heroism in Afghanistan
Story by Sgt. Jacob Harrer
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A San Francisco native received the Bronze Star Medal with a Combat V during an award ceremony here, April 18.
Corporal Michael P. Toomey, a rifleman serving with 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was recognized for his heroic actions on May 8, 2012, while deployed to Musa Qal’ah district, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
The previous night, helicopters inserted Golf Company into the Qats village. Toomey’s company was tasked with clearing the area of insurgents and weapons caches.
While the Marines patrolled, enemy fighters fired at them throughout the day from a tree line, Toomey said. His squad was ordered to conduct a flanking attack on the enemy position.
Toomey led his fire team of Marines and a Navy corpsman slowly toward the tree line, and they soon heard footsteps and noises forward of their position.
The team’s corpsman saw the enemy first. He alerted the machine gunner, who opened fire on about four insurgents, Toomey said. An intense firefight broke out between the Marines and the insurgent machine gun team.
Toomey directed his team to form a line and advance toward the enemy. He shot one insurgent and threw a grenade near the enemy position, causing the remaining insurgents to flee the fight, he said. The ordeal lasted about five minutes.
Following the engagement, the Marines intercepted the enemy’s radio transmissions and listened as the insurgents argued with their commanders about fighting the Marines. After the firefight, the Marines were not attacked for the remainder of the four-day operation.
Nearly a year later, Toomey stood in front of his battalion and family to receive the Bronze Star Medal. His father, Tom, mother, Christine and twin sister, Meghan, traveled from San Francisco to observe the ceremony.
It was the first time they heard about the firefight, said Tom. Toomey never told his family any details. They learned about the Bronze Star a month ago from his girlfriend. Tom said they probably would not have found out about the medal without the phone call.
“Mike is not the kind of person to talk about anything, especially this Bronze Star that he received,” Tom said. “He’s not one to toot his own horn and build himself up. That’s not who he is. We didn’t really find out what happened until today at the ceremony. We have an immense amount of pride in what he’s done.”
Toomey said the award is more for the Marines in the unit than for himself. He attributes his actions to the training he received throughout his career in the Marine Corps. That training paid off for Toomey when he needed it most - in the heat of combat.