“I think I just killed a guy with my hands.” That is what Staff Sergeant Clifford Wooldridge told his platoon commander on June 18, 2010. Word of his bravery and the legendary story quickly swept throughout the Marine Corps. Two years later in 2012 Wooldridge received the Navy Cross actions in Afghanistan, an award second only to the Medal of Honor. Now Woodward has decided to leave the military after nine years of service.

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According to American Grit:

On June 18th, 2010, Wooldridge and his platoon from Third Battalion, Seventh Marines came under intense enemy fire while conducting a mounted patrol in Helmand Province. The platoon dismounted and maneuvered on the enemy’s suspected location.

They then spotted a group of around fifteen enemy fighters preparing an ambush. Wooldridge, then a Corporal, bounded with one of his fire teams and killed at least eight of the fighters. On withdrawal, Wooldridge was left alone, and heard voices from behind a nearby compound wall.

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He quickly turned a corner and killed two Taliban fighters with his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. While preparing to reload, he spotted a machine gun barrel sticking out from a murder hole in the compound wall, which he immediately grabbed.

During the struggle, Wooldridge beat the Taliban fighter to death with his own weapon. After the battle, he famously told his platoon commander “I think I just killed a guy with my bare hands.”

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“We had a rough deployment, but it’s war,” he said in 2013, during an interview with the Marine Corps Times. That year, he earned the “Marine of the Year” title from the newspaper.

“There are definitely a lot of people who deserve this award over me, but the mere fact that I was even put up for this was incredible…I’m very humbled.”

Wooldridge has talked about his deployment multiple times claiming. “We had a rough deployment, but it’s war,” he said in 2013 during an interview with the Marine Corps Times.  That publication named him “Marine of the Year.”

When asked about the award he received for his heroic actions that day he states, “There are definitely a lot of people who deserve this award over me, but the mere fact that I was even put up for this was incredible…I’m very humbled.”

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After his Afghanistan deployment, Wooldridge served as an instructor with the Marine Corps Security Force Training Company’s Close Quarter Battle School.

Now after nine years of service for his country, he has decided to step away from the Corp. “I enjoyed my time in the Marine Corps,” Wooldridge told the Marine Corps Times. “It’s had a huge impact on my life.  I’m going to miss the men I served with and miss being in the fight with them.”

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