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HEROES 2013

'Machine-gun fire starts cracking off the wall right next to me'

Sgt. Christopher Coray

At night on the edge of a northern Afghanistan village, an enemy fighter tracked a Ranger platoon, peering over walls to keep tabs on its movement from a few hundred meters away. When he realized a five-man squad of Rangers was watching him watching them, enemy fire broke out.

Sgt. Christopher Coray and another Ranger bounded over a waist-high mud wall in pursuit. They were outnumbered by at least four men, probably more. At least six fighters in concealed positions were spraying heavy fire.

Coray went left to follow the fighter they spotted, who moved around that corner of the building.

“I pop around and machine-gun fire starts cracking off the wall right next to me,” Coray said.

The fighter was only 10 meters away and dust was swirling.

Coray ducked back behind the corner, regained his composure and then popped around again, killing the fighter and continuing to exchange fire with the other two. The other Ranger was at the front of building taking fire from fighters inside.

“Once I took care of the threat on that side,” Coray said, “I moved around to help him.”

“Braving enemy fire from multiple directions and moving by himself through unknown terrain,” Coray “followed the compound wall, and crossed an open area further exposing himself to enemy fire from a small room containing multiple fighters,” according to the citation for the Silver Star he earned that night.

The two Rangers tossed grenades into the room and then stepped in to finish the job with M4s.

Out in an open field, the other Rangers were taking heavy machine-gun and small-arms fire from the north, west and south.

“Coray bounded through treacherous terrain while enemy rounds kicked up dirt around him,” the citation states.

He and the other Ranger hooked back up with the rest of the squad, and from their exposed position, “I got my team on line, and we started engaging that threat,” Coray said.

Coray, of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, earned the Silver Star on April 27, 2011.

According to the citation, his “decisive actions in this engagement resulted in the destruction of numerous enemy fighters and prevented a tactically competent enemy from successfully ambushing the Assault Force.”

mccloskey.megan@stripes.com
Twitter: @MegMcCloskey

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