MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Cpl. Ryan Osbrink received a Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device June 8 for “courageous actions” in Iraq Dec. 4 and 7 while serving as a vehicle commander with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
Osbrink said the award, while an honor, brings painful memories. The only Marine killed Dec. 7 during the event was Osbrink’s friend, 22-year-old Cpl. Joseph P. Bier, machine gunner, 3/7. Osbrink and Bier became friends while serving together on Marine Corps Security Forces in Bangor, Wash.
Clayton and Carol Bier, the parents of the deceased Marine, came from Centralia, Wash., to the award ceremony and met Osbrink. The loss of a good friend was hard for him and made the weight of the medal that much heavier, he said.
“It never really feels good to wear it, it makes me think of that night,” said Osbrink. “It’s still hard for me, but I guess that’s normal.”
According to the award citation Osbrink dismounted from his vehicle Dec. 4 while under fire and moved into a building to assist an injured Iraqi soldier until the casualty evacuation unit arrived. He then positioned his Marines to provide security as the Iraqi soldier was loaded into the evacuation vehicle.
On the evening of Dec. 7, Osbrink’s section responded as the company’s Quick Reaction Force to assist a seven-ton truck disabled by an improvised explosive device. Upon arriving at the scene, a second IED exploded, engulfing the truck in flames. Osbrink described the scene as a, “Flash of light, big explosion, lots of fire.”
“By the time I looked at them [the Marines in the truck,] boom. I opened the door and was on my way,” he said. “It’s hard. I want to believe that I thought of something, but I can’t… I didn’t have time to think.”
A fellow Marine, 2nd Lt. Muaro Mujica, platoon commander for Weapons Platoon, Lima Company, 3/7, said Osbrink was focused only on helping others that night.
“It takes some people a second to figure out exactly what they are going to do, Corporal Osbrink dismounts his truck, and he goes directly into the fire,” said Mujica. “There wasn’t anything going through his eyes but trying to save his fellow Marines.”
As Osbrink pulled the downed Marines to safety, the truck exploded a third time knocking everyone to the ground. Osbrink returned to his feet and ran back into the fire to help more Marines. He provided first aid, applied tourniquets and pulled them into his humvee.
When it was full, Osbrink got in the back and pulled another Marine into the humvee on top of himself to return as many Marines as possible. He talked to them, held their hands and reassured them through the whole ride.
“The whole way back I was just, ‘Come on, you’re going to make it,’” he said. “Holding their hands, I wanted them to talk to me, which was the most important thing to me, just to know that they’re still there.”
Mujica said he was proud to have served with Osbrink.
“He truly acted beyond the call of duty that day and every day he was in country,” said Mujica. “When bad things happen, you get to see Marines do incredible things. It was an honor and privilege to watch Osbrink that day.”
The award comes with the memory that every Marine there on Dec. 7 tried to help. Even the Marines who were hurt in the third explosion still tried to help those who were injured before them, said Osbrink.
“It’s not just about me, it’s about every Marine who was there,” he said. “I don’t want you to think I’m a man amongst men or a hero. Everybody was. Every Marine there that night was a hero.”
The Portland, Ore., native joined the Marine Corps for the training he would receive before becoming a police officer. Since he was a teenager attending Wilson High School he wanted to join a Special Weapons and Tactics unit. With the skills he would learn from the Marine Corps he hoped to achieve that dream.
Osbrink is now looking toward the future. He plans to return home with his wife, Kimberly, after leaving the Marines Corps and become a police officer in Vancouver, Wash. There he hopes to fulfill his dream of becoming a member of SWAT.