Silver Star recipient addresses Pee Dee Kiwanis
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Michael Onstine was the guest speaker at the Nov. 9 luncheon meeting of the Pee Dee Kiwanis Club. Onstine talked about his tours of duty in Somalia and Iraq. Onstine was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action while serving as a platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Co. C, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, on Sept. 30, 2007 during Operation RUSTUM in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, near Baghdad.
While conducting a raid on the Kha Tun Mosque and an adjacent house, the enemy initiated a firefight with small-arms fire. The platoon returned fire when shrapnel from an enemy grenade ripped through the back of both of his legs and shoulder. Sergeant First Class Onstine refused medical treatment, electing to remain with his platoon until the enemy broke contact and other wounded paratroopers had been evacuated. In a follow-on mission, the platoon was again ambushed and was receiving small-arms fire and grenade attacks from three separate positions as they approached their target’s house.
Three paratroopers, an Iraqi interpreter and a human intelligence source were immediately wounded. Sergeant First Class Onstine and the platoon medic rushed to the aid of a wounded paratrooper as enemy rounds impacted around them. Sergeant First Class Onstine remained completely exposed in an alley, providing cover fire so the wounded could be moved, while ordering massive fire on enemy positions.
When it became clear support would not reach his men, still pinned down, he volunteered to stay behind covering his platoon’s withdrawal while engaging nearly 20 insurgents with his M-4 and grenade. The 24-year Army veteran has served three tours of duty in Iraq, two tours in Afghanistan and one in Somalia. He is a recipient of the Purple Heart for being wounded in action in Iraq. Onstine is currently stationed at Fort Jackson in Columbia.