Western Gambit valor.
Captain Ryan D. Schramel, the former commanding officer of Weapons Company, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, stands in front of a formation of Marines as Sgt. Maj. Gary T. Bow, the battalion sergeant major, reads Schramel’s award citation for the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” for valor during a ceremony at the 5th Marines Memorial Garden. (Photo by Sergeant Michael Cifuentes, 16 MAY 2013.)
Schramel, a native of Taylorsville, Calif., was awarded the Bronze Star for leading his company of Marines through multiple combat operations and engagements with insurgents in the Now Zad district of Helmand province, Afghanistan. During an operation dubbed Western Gambit, Schramel was directly responsible for the tactical employment of more than 350 Marines and Afghan soldiers and police through an insurgent infested area of the Now Zad district, resulting in the control of the area.
The operation was planned as a helicopter-borne assault, but foul weather cancelled all air support and the Marines resorted to ground movements exposing themselves to the unfamiliar terrain in the insurgent infested area. As the weather worsened with rain and the terrain accumulated mud and flooding, Schramel and his Marines pushed on. They reached the village of Khurghay where they were met with heavy resistance from the enemy. Insurgents manned multiple heavy machine gun positions that briefly suppressed the Marines’ mission. Undeterred from the weather elements and the enemy, Schramel rallied his Marines and maneuvered two of his platoons south of the village, encircling the enemy. He then directed a counterattack that crushed the entire enemy resistance in the area and controlled the village. The actions of the Marines and Afghan security forces resulted in the eventual establishment of an Afghan Uniformed Police post in Khurghay.