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Marine to receive Silver Star for rescuing 'grievously wounded' comrade

A former U.S. Marine from Prior Lake, Minn., was scheduled to receive one of the military’s top honors for rescuing a comrade from capture in Afghanistan by the Taliban while firing on the enemy and doing so while being wounded himself.

Ethan Nagel is scheduled to receive his Silver Star in an award presentation at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Navy Operational Support Center in Minneapolis.

“It is an honor that we are able to facilitate a Silver Star Medal presentation to Cpl. Ethan Nagel for his exceptional performance while serving in Afghanistan,” said Marine 1st Sgt. Michael Ryan, Marine Wing Support Squadron. “Cpl. Nagel’s heroic actions prevented the possibility of a gravely wounded soldier from being captured by the enemy.”

The Silver Star is the third-highest honor in the U.S. Armed Forces and is given in recognition of “gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.”

According to the Silver Star citation’s outline of Nagel’s actions in Uzbin Valley of eastern Afghanistan:

In July 2009, Nagel and others in his outnumbered unit came under intense close-range fire from small arms, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Nagel, with shrapnel wounds [to his shoulder], fired his pistol at approaching fighters while giving medical aid to a “grievously wounded” Special Forces soldier.

At one point, Nagel was shooting at the enemy within 25 yards “while simultaneously holding [a] dressing on the fallen soldier’s wounds” and keeping his fellow soldier from falling into enemy hands.

The citation noted that Nagel’s “persevering and eliminating untold enemy fighters” turned out to be “the decisive factors that turned the tide of this battle.”

Nagel, 26, was born in Fairmont, Minn., grew up in Prior Lake and graduated from Lutheran High School in Bloomington in May 2005 and joined the Marines that summer.

Along with Afghanistan, Nagel has also been stationed in Iraq. He left the Marines in November 2009, worked for private security firms in support of the military, then was assigned last year in Kabul to VIP protection for Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Secretary of State John Kerry, among others.

Nagel signed on with the Minnesota National Guard in August and is seeking to join Special Forces in North Carolina.

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