Philadelphia native receives Silver Star for valor in Afghanistan
When a patrol of Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division; Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan National Civil Order Police patrolmen was ambushed by insurgents March 5, 2011, Cpl. Jason M. Hassinger quickly realized that many of his comrades were trapped, unable to maneuver or engage the attacking enemy. The Marines requested air support, but it was not immediately available, so Hassinger led his section through the gunfire to rescue his trapped brothers in arms.
Hassinger, a Philadelphia native, was recognized for his actions during the 2nd Marine Division change-of-command ceremony on base Aug. 23, when the outgoing commanding general of the division, Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan, awarded Hassinger the Silver Star, the nation’s third highest award for combat valor. Staff Sgt. Matthew E. Faircloth, also of 2/8, was also awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device for a separate incident.
Hassinger was shot four times on the patrol for which he was recognized. He continued to fight despite his injuries until the enemy finally retreated.
“They were all pinned down,” said Hassinger. “My section was under fire but their faces were in the dirt, so it was up to us to get them out. We suppressed them and regrouped, and we were going to chase them but I collapsed and was evacuated.”
After being shot, Hassinger relied on his training and combat experience to take over to keep him in the fight. A calm, fearless Hassinger silenced the enemy with his weapon and a M203 grenade launcher.
“I’m hit and I need to get back up, … keep going,” Hassinger recalled after being shot on patrol. “The dude who shot me is going to get shot back.”
Toolan showed his appreciation for the efforts of Hassinger and Faircloth as he addressed the crowd toward the end of the change of command ceremony.
“I want you to hear the citations of Corporal Hassinger and Staff Sergeant Faircloth,” said Toolan, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. “That’s just an indication of the type of heroism that goes on every day (in 2nd Marine Division) … We don’t give awards lightly.”
The most chilling moment of the ceremony occurred when those in attendance displayed their gratitude for the actions of Hassinger and Faircloth with an enthusiastic ovation as the two proudly stood at attention with their freshly pinned decorations on their chests.
Hassinger is no longer on active duty and now works for Disabled American Veterans where he helps guide fellow veterans to utilize the benefits to which they are entitled.
Article by Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde, 2nd Marine Division