MARINE OF THE WEEK // WARRIOR DOG HANDLER
Sgt. William B. Soutra
Company B, First Marine Special Operations Battalion
Helmand Province, Afghanistan
July 11, 2010
Award: Navy Cross
While patrolling with Afghan commandos in Helmand Province, Sergeant Soutra’s unit became pinned down by a complex ambush initiated by an improvised explosive device that mortally wounded his Staff Sergeant element leader. Sergeant Soutra unhesitatingly took charge, and with complete disregard for his own life, moved across open terrain to each commando’s position, orienting their fires on the enemy. Under intense fire he fearlessly moved forward with the team Corpsman to reach the fallen element leader. While the Corpsman rendered aid to the element leader, Sergeant Soutra placed a tourniquet on a nearby severely-wounded commando and pulled him to safety. Repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, he again moved from position to position to orient and direct friendly fires, accurately relayed enemy information that enabled aircraft to provide suppression, and calmly coordinated a successful evacuation of the casualties – personally carrying one of the wounded 75 meters. Nearly 70 minutes after the ambush began, Sergeant Soutra rallied the platoon and maneuvered them safely out of the kill zone with his military working dog still at his side. By his decisive leadership, exceptional courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and complete dedication to duty, Sergeant Soutra reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.