News: Marine awarded for combat heroism
Story by Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Staff Sgt. Ryan Stogner, a landing support specialist with the Adviser Training Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force, was awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 25.
Stogner, a 30 year old from New Orleans, received the honor for his heroic service as a station team chief of the Police Advisor Team, Kajaki District Police, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, during a seven-month deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan. Stogner, then a sergeant, played a pivotal role in the success of both his team and the Afghan Police he oversaw, demonstrating a great range of professional skill, tactical expertise and compassionate leadership, according to his summary of action.
“The threat level was very high where we were,” Stogner said. “My main mission was to bring home my Marines the same way they left the wire.”
Being third in command of a unique team of foreign advisors, Stogner was charged with dynamic and challenging missions that ranged from squad leadership, senior leadership mentor, chief instructor and tactical advisor. He carried a significant portion of the team’s mission on his shoulders, and exceeded in the performance of his duties, including those outside his formal training.
Stogner and his team work diligently to ensure that Afghan police under their charge were well versed in a wide array of tactical skills, enabling them to become an effective fighting force and improving their capability to work alongside with Marines. His time and experience as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department also proved vital in developing the Afghan Police focused and community-oriented policing skills.
“The LAPD made me a better leader,” said Stogner. “They made me a better communicator. You have to be able to take any situation and be an active thinker.”
A certain trust has formed between the Marines and the Afghan police, which helped make communication with them a lot easier, Stogner said.
Stogner’s team engaged in more than 60 dismounted, partnered combat operations alongside the Afghan National Police in an area with no Afghan Army forces, and an extremely high Taliban presence. During one of the firefights, Stogner demonstrated calm and courageous leadership to rescue a Marine and repel enemy combatants during an enemy ambush. The attack began with an improvised, explosive-device explosion only 10 feet away from where Stogner stood.
“When I was lying on the ground, I looked up and the smoke cleared, I immediately saw my number-two man lying on the ground,” said Stogner. “The only thing I cared about was getting to him and making sure he was okay.”
While suffering from a concussion, Stogner ignored the pain and quickly began directing his team to provide security and rescue the casualty. His team began taking accurate machine-gun fire shortly after heading toward the casualty collection point as they carried the casualty. Stogner quickly got his team out of danger and directed them to return suppressive fire. After completing a 1000-meter movement to the casualty collection point, Stogner then volunteered to escort an explosive ordinance disposal team to the scene. Only after all Marines and Afghan Police were back in friendly lines did Stogner seek medical attention.
“That was the first time I had to lead Marines in combat dismounted patrols,” said Stogner. “It was the first opportunity I’ve ever had to lead as a squad leader, with a group of Marines depending on me, making the decisions to keep them alive. It was humbling to say the least.”
The ceremony was attended by Stogner’s family, fellow police officers from the LAPD and by the Marines and sailors of 1/11.
“All of my experiences in the past 12 years in the Marine Corps and as a police officer came together and allowed me to be a good leader for my guys and helped us accomplish the mission,” said Stogner.