decorsilverstar.gif331_small-trident.jpgNavy News | March 07, 2008

SAN DIEGO – U.S. Navy SEAL, Lt. Nicholas Hill received a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars with valor during an awards ceremony at Naval Special Warfare Command on Feb. 19.

The awards recognize his heroic actions in Ramadi during two squadron deployments in support of Operation: Iraqi Freedom between April 2006 and Oct. 2007.

Hill, who serves as Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan’s flag aide, accepted his awards in front of the command and was praised by family, friends, and peers for his brave acts.

“I am proud to see him receive the recognition he so deserves, especially in the presence of his teammates and family,” said Lt. Brian Babin, who served as Hill’s immediate supervisor during his first deployment.

During Hill’s first deployment, he planned and executed 60 combat operations and played a role in at least 13 fire fights, most notably one that earned him the Silver Star.

According to the citation, Hill, then a Lt. j.g., led a coalition force of SEAL, U.S. Army, and Iraqi fighters on a daytime patrol through an insurgent-fortified urban area.

After searching through a house, the force came under heavy gunfire from multiple directions. One Iraqi soldier was hurt during the attack, and laid helplessly exposed to the attackers.

Hill organized suppressive fire, dragging the man to safety across the street as bullet rounds rained around them. Hill is credited with saving another injured Iraqi soldier during the battle by calling in reinforcements to protect the surrounding area from hostile action.

Although Hill is thankful for the Silver Star, he thinks of it less “like winning a swim meet” and more of a reminder of the serious risks and challenges that SEALs face in combat.

With no shortage of risks facing Hill, he received his first Bronze Star with combat V for actions taken in May 2007 when he led a quick response force against terrorists attacking an Iraqi police station.

Two suicide bombers detonated their explosive filled vests, killing and wounding coalition personnel.

According to the citation, Hill and his men quickly responded with a push to evacuate the wounded. Through constant enemy fire, they reached downed coalition forces and extracted them to safety.

Hill received his second Bronze Star for his many contributions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, between April and Oct. of 2006.

Hill served as patrol leader, assault force commander, joint tactical air controller, and combat advisor during combat operations in Ramadi.

The citation details how Hill coordinated, planned and executed 23 combat operations and established a security force presence as an officer-in-charge of SEALs and Iraqi sniper lookout posts in insurgent controlled areas.

According to Babbin, these operations made the neighborhoods safer from insurgent attacks.

As a result, coalition forces were able to wrestle control of a city dominated by insurgents, achieving a major objective of Multi-National Forces West – a coalition headquarters in Iraq.

“Frankly, there are a lot of other guys who helped me during my missions, including those cited in the awards,” Hill said. “I hope they get the recognition they deserve.”

The Silver Star is awarded for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations with a friendly force. It is the fourth highest military honor that can be awarded to a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the third highest awarded for valor.

The Bronze Star is given for bravery, acts of merit, or meritorious service. It’s the ninth-highest military award in the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth-highest combat award given for bravery.

The valor device, or combat “V”, establishes the award as resulting from an act of heroism in combat.

Since 9/11, SEALs have been awarded 23 Silver Stars, and 1044 Bronze Stars for their contributions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Hill’s contributions to the strategic objective of taking back the city of Ramadi from insurgent forces cannot be overstated,” Babin said. “He represents the best of the SEAL teams.”

“Awards are important, but they are not the reason we do what we do,” Hill said. “For the SEALs, our job is the most engaging, exciting, and rewarding thing we do.”