The senior leader of an elite Marine commando unit was awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions that led to the rescue of dozens of hostages during the November 2015 Islamist terrorist attack on the Raddison Blu hotel in Bamako, Mali, the Marine Corps Times reported.
Upon hearing of the attack, in which 170 were being held hostage, the commando devised a plan while en route to the hotel.
“There was very little time to respond. We fell back on what we had prepared for. There were points in which the situation became more intense, ambiguous and scary. At times, the situation we faced was confusing and difficult. However, our purpose was clear. That clarity and unity of purpose allowed us to navigate the ambiguity and manage our emotions to accomplish the mission at hand,” said the commando (who cannot be named) in a statement.
On November 20, 2015, close to 10 gunmen affiliated with an al-Qaeda offshoot stormed the hotel in Bamako. Five American Defense Department officials were directly caught up in the incident.
The Marine Raider unit was able to rescue 150 of the hostages, including all the American officials.
At the entrance to the hotel, the unit was met with grenades and live fire. The battle was intense, yet the commando said failure was never on his mind.
The Silver Star is the nation’s third-highest award for valor.
The U.S. military has a small presence in Mali consisting mainly of intelligence and special forces designed to assist the French in their counterterrorism operation in the country.