CAMP LEJEUNE - A Camp Lejeune Marine, who received the Silver Star for his actions during a patrol in Afghanistan, says he's accepting the award on behalf of the troops who won't come home.
Camp Lejeune officials say Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Cole received the third-highest award for valor this week for his actions on August 17, 2010, in Marjah, Afghanistan. Cole was part of a team on a reconnaissance mission that was supposed to take pictures of the town and its people and learn about the area. As they left, they came under attack by 20 insurgents.
"It sounded like an explosion, but it was that all the enemy opened fire on us at the exact same time," said Cole.
An injured Cole provided suppressive cover for the other nine troops on his team.
"The only thought was just shoot, not shoot here or shoot there, but shoot out beyond my guys," said Cole.
During the firefight, Cole himself was struck. Cole says he couldn't feel his arm.
"I said, hey, we really need to get out of this ditch because at that point I became the sixth casualty," said Cole.
Cole and his team eventually found cover in a nearby compound before they were rescued. Cole says he shares the award with the other members of the squad and troops who have died.
"I was actually shocked. I don't know why they put me up for an award when all the other Marines I was with, they were wounded and they continued to fight for an hour, when an enemy advanced on them within 30 meters," said Cole.
Cole said the men he was with on that day saved his life.