MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- His calm voice softened and his soulful brown eyes sank slowly to the ground as he pictured the Marines of 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment who were lost or wounded during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During OIF, Brooklyn, N.Y., native Maj. David B. Sosa served with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Task Force Tarawa and his courageous actions while leading from the front earned him the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device here Jan. 23.
While completing his tasks as battalion operations officer, the command post came under fire and Sosa’s command and control vehicle was lost. Disregarding his own safety he directed the battalion staff to clear all the radios of important information, collect sensitive equipment and coordinate a rally point while taking direct small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire, according to the Bronze Star citation.
Assisting in the defense of the forward command post and being continuously exposed to enemy fire he remained focused on the mission, providing an example for other Marines to follow, the citation continued.
Seeing the Marines use their training and remain focused on the mission at hand is what you want to see, Sosa said, his athletic five-foot-nine frame swelling with pride with these words. “It was amazing seeing what they were able to do.”
Later, as the battalion was moving down Highway 7, the enemy engaged Task Force Tarawa again.
“A little bit of stress in a combat environment can spiral out of control. Maj. Sosa was the calming voice in the storm,” said Capt. Michael A. Brooks, division staff secretary, 2nd Marine Division.
The first transmissions from the forward units were erratic and the Marines were excited, he explained. Sosa got on the radio and lead the unit through their first engagement. His efforts gave the Marines what they needed to fight and win that day.
“There was nothing I did that anyone else wouldn’t have done,” declared Sosa.
“Sosa often deflected the praise he received to the Marines he was with,” Brooks said. “He is modest and quiet, but very confident and professional in what he does.”
Not only keeping a cool head, Sosa has a sense of humor, Brooks stated. During a serious meeting where the mission needed to be accomplished Sosa cracked a joke at the end to lighten the mood and put everything in perspective.
“Sosa has the sensibility to know when jokes are appropriate,” Brooks said.
Trying to keep in-line with Sosa’s personality, Headquarters Battalion tried to surprise Sosa with the medal by presenting it following an eight-mile battalion hike.
With a smug smile and chuckle, Sosa said he got tipped off the night prior to the presentation. He knew he had been submitted for the medal because all the award requests go through him.
“When you are receiving an award you have to say something, but then I was thinking of the Marines who were lost and injured while we were in Iraq,” he said, his voice softening. “I was humbled and overwhelmed,” is all that came to mind.