US Marine from Juneau awarded medal for valor

Associated PressSeptember 26, 2012 

In this Aug. 2012 photo released by the U.S. Marine Corps, Marines assigned to the 4th Reconnaissance Battalion congratulate Staff Sgt. Alec Haralovich, center, after he was presented the Silver Star Medal, the nation's third highest award for combat valor, at Camp Atterbury near Bloomington, Ind. Haralovich thought he was going to die when an enemy round struck him in the side as his patrol was attacked last fall in Afghanistan. The bullet knocked him down, but to Haralovich's surprise, he wasn't even bleeding. The bullet had shattered his radio but failed to penetrate his body armor. Haralovich, who grew up in Juneau, Alaska, was able to get up, run through an open field and fire a rocket shot that scattered insurgents who had pinned down the Marine Reserve unit.

SGT. RAY LEWIS / AP PHOTO

JUNEAU -- Marine Staff Sgt. Alec Haralovich thought he was going to die when an enemy round struck him in the side as his patrol was attacked last fall in Afghanistan.

The bullet knocked him down, but to Haralovich's surprise, he wasn't even bleeding. The bullet had shattered his radio but failed to penetrate his body armor.

Haralovich, who grew up in Juneau, was able to get up, run through an open field and fire a rocket that scattered insurgents who had pinned down the Marine Reserve unit.

For his actions, Haralovich last month was awarded the Silver Star, the military's third-highest award for valor, at a ceremony in Indiana.

"It's very humbling to receive a prestigious award that I did, but ultimately, when you get down to it, it's a little piece of ribbon," Haralovich told the Juneau Empire. "So many of my guys did things probably on par to it, but I got recognized."

Haralovich enlisted in the Marines immediately after he graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School in 2003. He served tours of duty in Iraq and was awarded a Purple Heart for a bomb wound. He remains a member of the Marine Corps Reserve as he takes courses in international studies at Indiana University.

Haralovich and fellow Marines were on patrol when they were attacked by automatic weapons Oct. 4.

"I went straight down," Haralovich recounted. "It looked like I was seriously hurt, and my team medic came up to try to pull me out and treat me."

Haralovich ordered him back to cover, but the medic was grazed in the thigh. Another Marine had his water pouch shot off.

Haralovich told the Marine Corps News he had trained extensively with the M72 light anti-tank weapon on previous tours before he became a reconnaissance man in the reserves. Two other Marines provided cover fire as he ran forward with the armed rocket launcher, making himself a target.

"I don't know how I didn't get hit again, but I didn't," Haralovich said.

After destroying the enemy position, Haralovich and other Marines pursued the insurgents for another two hours. The shot to his side, he said, felt like a sledgehammer but caused no permanent damage.

"I had some minor bruising," Haralovich said. "I was fine. I was back on patrol the next day, no big deal."

Haralovich's mother, Barbara Shepherd of Juneau, said she approves of his military service

"I think he's following his passion, and that's what's important to me," Shepherd said. "He's very devoted to it, I think.

"Of course," she added, "it's a constant worry."

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