Mark L Donald

Mark L DonaldFor extraordinary heroism as medical officer assigned to a joint operational unit conducting combat operations against Al Qaeda and Taliban enemy forces in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In October 2003, Lieutenant Donald was part of a multi-vehicle mounted patrol ambushed by extremely heavy fire from rocket-propelled grenades and small arms. When two rocket-propelled grenades exploded immediately in front of his vehicle, Lieutenant Donald exited the vehicle and began returning fire. While under heavy and continuous machine gun fire he pulled the wounded Afghan commander to relative safety behind the vehicle’s engine block. He left his position, completely exposing himself to the small arms fire, and pulled a wounded American trapped behind the steering wheel to cover behind the vehicle. He covered the wounded with his own body while returning fire and providing care. In the process, multiple bullets passed through his clothing and equipment. Identifying wounded Afghan personnel in the two lead vehicles, Lieutenant Donald moved to their aid under heavy fire and began medical treatment. After treating the wounded, he took charge of an Afghan squad in disarray, deployed them to break the ambush, and continued to treat numerous critically injured personnel, while arranging for their prompt medical evacuation. That afternoon, while sweeping an area of earlier action, a U.S. -Afghan element was ambushed by a platoon-sized enemy force near Lieutenant Donald’s position. Knowing personnel were gravely wounded, Lieutenant Donald without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own safety ran 200 meters between opposing forces exposing him to withering and continuous heavy machine gun and small arms fire to render medical treatment to two wounded personnel, one Afghan and one American. He placed himself between the casualties and the extremely heavy enemy fire now directed at him and began emergency medical treatment. Still under intense enemy fire, wounded by shrapnel, and knowingly within dangerously close range of attacking U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopter rockets, he organized the surviving Afghan soldiers and led a 200 meter fighting withdrawal to friendly positions. Lieutenant Donald coordinated the medical evacuation of the wounded soldiers and withdrew overland back to base before treating his own wounds. By his heroic display of decisive and tenacious leadership, unyielding courage in the face of constant enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty. Lieutenant Donald reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.