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New Army recruit gets second highest medal in combat

/ 05:25 PM March 21, 2019
New Army recruit gets second highest medal in combat

President Rodrigo Duterte congratulates Private Jerry Wassig for being one of three recipients of Distinguished Conduct Star award, the second highest military medal for combat. Screengrab from RTVM

MANILA, Philippines — An entry-level soldier who battled an ISIS-linked group alongside troops during the Marawi siege in 2017 is one of three recipients of the second highest military medal for combat.

Private Jerry Wassig will be awarded with the Distinguished Conduct Star by President Rodrigo Duterte on the anniversary celebration of the Philippine Army on Thursday.

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The soldier, who was nine months in service at that time, served as the tail scout of the 1st Platoon of the 11th Scout Ranger Company during an encounter with Maute group fighters in Marawi in September 2017.

“Imbued with profound sense of responsibility and dedication to duty, Private Wassig audaciously crawled inside a sewer upon seeing his commanding officer was fatally hit and his team leader’s condition was slowly deteriorating,” part of his citation read.

His commanding officer, Captain Rommel Sandoval, was killed in action while he was trying to save one of their comrades trapped in one of the buildings within the battle zone. For taking a bullet for his troops, he was later posthumously awarded with the Medal of Valor, the most coveted and highest military award for combat.

Despite the heavy gunfire exchanged between government troops and Maute fighters, Wassig “bravely crawled to the position to his comrades and performed the rescue of the two casualties.”

He was able to extricate his team leader first and later on his commanding officer “even as enemies continued to fire at his position.”

Two other enlisted personnel — Sergeant Arnel Alberto of the 1st Light Reaction Company and Corporal Roel Delos Reyes of the 66th Infantry Battalion — are also recipients of the Distinguished Conduct Star for their roles against Maute fighters in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Three Army officers and one enlisted personnel — First Lieutenants Francis Hernaez of the 66th Infantry Battalion; William Hiponia of the 83rd Infantry Battalion; Antonio Cortes of the 4th Mechanized Infantry Battalion; and Staff Sergeant Juljiri Abdurajik of the 8th Battalion —  were given the Gold Cross Medal, the third highest award for combat, for their roles in communist insurgency. /kga

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