MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII -- First Sgt. William Pinkerton IV, Headquarters Battery first sergeant, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Valor during a ceremony at 1st Battalion, 12th Marines motor pool, March 18.
“I’m humbled that I got to receive the Bronze Star,” said Pinkerton, 39, and a native of Marion, N.Y. “I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish anything without the Marines I served with.”
The Bronze Star Medal is an individual military award of the U.S. Armed Forces. It may be awarded for acts of heroism, merit or meritorious service in a combat zone. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with a V distinguishing device on the medal. The Bronze Star is the fifth-highest combat decoration and the 10th-highest U.S. military award.
Pinkerton was recognized for his efforts supporting combat operations as the company first sergeant for India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment from May 1 to Nov. 30, 2010, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In light of his own accomplishments, he wanted to recognize his Marines.
“Marines stood an average of 1000 hours of post throughout the deployment,” Pinkerton said. “Our company had the largest area of operation during that time. We never lost any gear or compromised safety for the duration of the deployment. Our Marines really understood what it meant to be disciplined in every aspect of the deployment.”
Pinkerton provided battlefield discipline during five operations against enemy forces in Afghanistan’s Helmand province. He led several patrols on foot, which covered more than 300 kilometers throughout the deployment. “We need to have more Marines like 1st Sgt. Pinkerton,” said Maj. Francisco Zavala, operations officer for 4th Force Reconnaissance Company. Zavala was the commanding officer of India Company while Pinkerton was the company first sergeant. “He instilled discipline in every Marine which helped make the whole deployment run smoothly.”
He frequently exposed himself to enemy fire in order to successfully lead the Marines under his charge. He wanted to show his Marines what it meant to be a leader.
“I want Marines to understand that just because you may be in a leadership position doesn’t mean sit back and relax,” Pinkerton said. “I made it a point to be out with my Marines, always leading the fight from the front.”
While partnered with Afghan soldiers on July 22, 2010, Pinkerton led the company in an immediate response to a downed AH-1W Cobra helicopter. The partnered forces sprinted three kilometers in full combat equipment and secured the site.
“We reached the crash site first and it was complete chaos — we started receiving rounds immediately after arriving,” Zavala said. “The chaos didn’t affect Pinkerton, and he remained composed throughout the fight, making sure everyone was in the correct position to keep everyone alive.”
Pinkerton’s combat leadership was paramount to the company’s success during several hostile encounters, and he successfully targeted eight improvised explosive device emplacements using supporting arms. He led the company’s Marines from the front during 16 IED, 19 device and 14 cache finds. He captured six detainees and executed six friendly medical evacuations.
Every engagement had extremely high chances for civilian collateral damage. He ensured and personally exhibited a high degree of military restraint and tactical patience during the seven-month deployment.
Today, nearly three years after his deployment, Pinkerton still strives to make a difference as he continues his journey in the Corps.
“I don’t plan on retiring from the Marine Corps anytime soon,” Pinkerton said. “I love being around young Marines. Young Marines join the Marine Corps to better themselves. Helping those who want to grow as Marines and human beings is what I love.”