Navy EOD Chief Awarded Silver Star for Saving Teammates During Intense Firefight in Iraq

 In Sea, Iraq

An Imperial Beach-based chief explo­sive ordi­nance dis­pos­al tech­ni­cian was award­ed the Silver Star Medal during a cer­e­mo­ny at Naval Base Point Loma Thursday.

It is the 3rd-high­est award in the Navy for brav­ery in combat.

Matt O’Connor, an EOD chief assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 11, was deployed to Iraq with a spe­cial oper­a­tions task force in April 2019. His team entered an enemy-held vil­lage and came under fire, accord­ing to a Navy news release.

“After return­ing fire, Chief O’Connor noticed a team­mate wound­ed on the ground and exposed to the enemy,” the award cita­tion says. “With utter dis­re­gard for his own safety, Chief O’Connor advanced for­ward, car­ried his wound­ed team­mate to cover and then ren­dered life­sav­ing med­ical treat­ment while coor­di­nat­ing sup­pres­sive fire.”

O’Connor again exposed him­self to fire to retrieve anoth­er wound­ed person, a U.S. lin­guist, his award cita­tion says.

“He then car­ried the first team­mate under con­tin­u­ous enemy fire through dif­fi­cult ter­rain laden with impro­vised explo­sive devices to reach the vehi­cle pick up loca­tion,” the cita­tion says.

O’Connor received his medal from Vice Adm. Scott Conn, the com­man­der of the Navy’s 3rd Fleet.

“Chief O’Connor’s coura­geous actions last April illus­trate the combat-cred­i­ble sailors we have in the U.S. Navy,” Conn said in a state­ment. “He dis­played extreme courage and tough­ness under fire in pro­tect­ing his team­mates and ensur­ing their safety. I would be hard-pressed to find a stronger exam­ple of honor, courage and com­mit­ment than EODC O’Connor.”

In a state­ment, O’Connor cred­it­ed his team.

“I am hon­ored to receive the Silver Star and appre­ci­ate the recog­ni­tion; how­ev­er, I want people to know that it took a whole group of guys to ensure every­one returned safely,” he said. “I was not the only one out there, and this is reflec­tive of a team effort.”

O’Connor is orig­i­nal­ly from Bellingham, Washington, and enlist­ed in the Navy in 2008. He report­ed to his cur­rent duty sta­tion in Imperial Beach in November 2017.

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©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Source: Task & Purpose

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