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Cpl. gets Silver Star for 3-day defense of post

Mar. 19, 2012 - 07:48AM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 19, 2012 - 07:48AM  |  
Sgt. Michael Moynihan is presented the Silver Star Award by Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn on March 5.
Sgt. Michael Moynihan is presented the Silver Star Award by Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn on March 5. (Staff Sgt. Luke Graziani / Army)
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For three days, the enemy relentlessly attacked Observation Post Shal in Afghanistan's Kunar province.

And for three days, Cpl. Michael A. Moynihan led his fellow soldiers in a fierce defense of their OP, directing attacks and providing covering fire even though it exposed him to the intense enemy barrage. A mortar hit his position and knocked him unconscious; after he came to, Moynihan continued to lead the fight.

For his actions Oct. 11-13, Moynihan was awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest award for valor.

Moynihan, a team leader assigned to B Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, received the award March 5 from Maj. Gen. Daniel Allyn, commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force-1 and the 1st Cavalry Division.

Moynihan, who is still deployed to Afghanistan, could not be reached by press time.

On Oct. 11, as part of Operation Rugged Sarak in eastern Afghanistan, Moynihan's team was charged with guarding the northern flank of OP Shal, according to the narrative accompanying his award.

When the team came under fire, Moynihan led his soldiers to identify 12 enemy positions in the mountainous terrain across the valley and deliver two tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile strikes.

Afterward, Moynihan took control of an abandoned and exposed machine-gun position so he could suppress the enemy fire. As the enemy tried to zero in on his position, Moynihan continued to fire, performing barrel changes, linking ammunition and sustaining a "deadly accurate" rate of fire on the enemy target, according to the narrative.

The next day, Moynihan identified an armed enemy fighter moving into a fortified position across the valley. He immediately took control of an M249 squad automatic weapon and killed the enemy fighter, according to the narrative.

As the enemy lobbed mortars at the OP, Moynihan stood his ground and marked enemy positions for his soldiers to fire two more TOW missile strikes, killing seven enemy fighters.

He then slowed the progress of the enemy to support his platoon mates by using suppressive fire, fragmentary grenades and Claymore mines.

The same evening, the enemy launched another attack, this time using rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 rifles at close range to try to overrun the northern flank of the OP, according to the narrative.

Moynihan again exposed himself to enemy fire, moving through the danger zone and rallying his men to run a counterattack on the enemy. Moynihan fired his M4 carbine, threw grenades and detonated Claymore mines before taking control of an abandoned SAW position.

However, the "heaviest and most coordinated attack" was yet to come, according to the narrative.

On Oct. 13, as the enemy once again attacked the OP, Moynihan exposed himself to danger again to acquire and pass grid coordinates to the platoon forward observer. A mortar slammed into the ground 10 meters from his fighting position before a second mortar found its mark, severely wounding three Afghan and five American soldiers and knocking Moynihan unconscious.

When he came to, Moynihan ordered a fellow soldier to lay down suppressive fire while he manned an Afghan army SAW, leading the defense of the OP's northern flank until reinforcements arrived.

Moynihan was "instrumental in helping to destroy a determined enemy force, repelling two near ambushes that threatened to breach the vulnerable perimeter of his platoon's patrol base," according to the narrative.

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