Riling quickly organized his forces and began moving to the embattled Marines. When they entered the main town of Rammadi, they immediately came under direct fire coming from every direction, he said.
"The insurgents were in all different types of buildings waiting for us with (rocket-propelled grenades) and small arms," he said.
The Marine squad had been pinned down by snipers and was in terrible shape when Riling, Connor and their physical-security detachment arrived on the scene. The squad leader was dead, lying in the middle of the street, and three of the seven Marines were seriously wounded. The senior remaining Marine was a corporal.
...The group fought its way through withering enemy fire and linked up with the Marines. Riling said he then absorbed the Marines into his team, and they fought their way out. "Some of the guys were laying there wounded. They had gunshot wounds to their legs, and some of them were hurt bad," he said. "One guy was dead and lying out in the middle of the street. They didn't want to leave him. I respected that about the squad."
Rescued marines. Check.
After Riling, Connor and their team evacuated the injured Marines and recovered the Marine squad leader's body, another Marine platoon in the area came under attack by insurgents. Riling and Connor witnessed Marine vehicles being fired on by an Iraqi insurgent armed with rocket-propelled grenades. Riling directed two Bradley Fighting Vehicles from the brigade's reserve into the fight to squelch the attacks.
They saw the insurgent run into a building and had one of the Bradleys knock down a fence surrounding the house. The building was heavily reinforced and had high brick and metal walls. Riling said he knew it was important to act fast, because his colonel and his troops were in a precarious position.
"I thought for sure that someone was going to come out of that house and just start spraying (AK-47 rifle fire)," he said. "I didn't want someone to come out and kill my commander and kill any of our soldiers."
The lead soldier on the door was Sgt. 1st Class Gibson, who was in charge of the colonel's physical-security detachment. Gibson was attempting to kick the door down but couldn't get it to budge. Riling said he was worried -- it was taking too much time. So the 6-feet, 2-inch Riling yelled at Gibson to move out of the way.
"As he moved out of the way, I just crashed through that door. I remember barreling through the door with my left shoulder, and I just knocked the door right off the hinges," said Riling, who weighs 198 pounds.
As a result, the insurgent hiding behind the door was mortally wounded and died.
Kill insurgent with door. Check.
"I felt bad; I mean, we lost 12 Marines that day," he said. "It's very depressing, and it makes you think. You always say to yourself, 'What could you have done better?' In my mind, we did everything we could."
Riling said his actions that day were just those of a soldier doing his job.
"I don't claim to be a hero for getting this award. I don't want to be labeled as a hero. I felt I was just another soldier on the battlefield, doing my job, helping other soldiers and helping Marines," Riling explained.defenselink.mil
True soldier modesty. Check.
That's why they're called the best.