CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - The Sangin District in the Helmand Province was considered one of the most dangerous areas in Afghanistan just two years ago. Camp Pendleton Marine Sgt. Matthew T. Woodall led his squad through a series of attacks in the area, but it was his actions on one particular day that earned him a high honor.
Woodall jumped on top of a fellow Marine that was shot, but he said, "He was immediately killed, and at the time I didn't know that."
It was the beginning of a fight that lasted over seven hours in 110-degree weather.
"It was extremely muddy, so all of our weapons were dirty and they were jamming and stuff," said Woodall.
It's what he remembers most about that day. The squad then crawled through cornfields for over an hour to ambush the enemy.
"When you're ... with these guys every day, it really becomes your family and your natural instinct is to protect your family," said Woodall.
For his actions, Woodall was awarded the Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for valor.
Woodall was in civilian clothes during Friday's ceremony because he received an honorable discharge last year. His mother listened from the front row and wiped away tears.
Woodall told 10News he doesn't feel like a hero and he was just doing his job. In fact, he would've just preferred something simple rather than a big ceremony.
"I said that I would be OK if they just mailed it to me," he said. "I love this country, I do."
Woodall will return to Kentucky to complete his degree in homeland security so he can continue to serve his country.
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