The Silver Star is the third highest honor a member of the military can earn, behind the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross, and a former Marine recently became the latest recipient of the impressive decoration. David M. Gerardi, currently a sergeant with the Army National Guard, was recognized for his heroics during a 2011 firefight, according to Marine Corps Times.
The incident in question took place on June 6 when his team came under unexpected heavy fire while talking to local residents in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Considerably outgunned, Gerardi took it upon himself to suppress the enemy fire, all while he was extremely vulnerable to substantial gunfire.
"Despite rounds cracking literally within inches of his head, he quickly and calmly acquired the enemy fighter firing through a hole in a compound wall," the summary of action read, according to the publication. "He calmly and skillfully placed three rounds of precision fire into the hole with his M110 [Semi-automatic Sniper System] killing the enemy machine gunner."
The Silver Star was first awarded in 1932, and since then as many as 150,000 soldiers have earned the distinction. Most notably, Colonel David Hackworth was awarded 10 Silver Stars during his time in the military.