Staff Sergeant Clifford Woolridge, a Navy Cross recipient and U.S. Marine Corps Hero, officially retired from the Corps on Tuesday. After nine years of active service Woolridge is set to pursue other areas of his new life.
“I enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps,” Wooldridge told Marine Corps Times. “It’s had a huge impact on my life. I’m going to miss the men I’ve served with and miss being in the fight with them.”
The story of how Staff Sgt Woolridge got his Navy Cross became a much shared story in 2012. While deployed in Afghanistan in 2010, the then Cpl. Woolridge was in a humvee convoy when they came under attack. Running across open ground, he led a team to the enemy position “killing or wounding at least eight and forcing the rest to scatter.”
As Woolridge stayed to secure his team’s safe withdrawal, he heard voices from behind a wall. He bravely rushed around the wall to confront four Taliban fighters face to face. Woolridge quickly fired his M-249 Squad Automatic Weapon, killing two instantly. A third fighter was killed trying to escape.
Woolridge ran out of ammunition and tried to bluff the fourth into putting his weapon down. When the fighter raised his weapon in aim, Woolridge slid behind an adjacent wall to hide while he reloaded his gun.
That’s when he saw the tip of a machine gun came into view. Woolridge tossed down his M-249 and grabbed the combatant’s weapon. A hand-to-hand combat battle began.
The Taliban fighter attempted to pull the pin from a grenade hanging from the young Marine’s uniform. Woolridge took the fighter’s weapon and struck him several times in the head killing him.
Staff Sergeant Clifford Woolridge, upon return from his deployment worked as an instructor with the Marine Corps Security Force Training Company’s Close Quarter Battle School.
By his bold and decisive leadership, undaunted courage under fire, and total dedication to duty, Corporal Wooldridge reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
“It made me a man and I am forever grateful for the men who mentored me and led by example,” he said.
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