CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — On two successive mornings in July, Joseph Gould woke up at 3 a.m. with an overwhelming need to pray for his son, a Navy corpsman deployed in Afghanistan. "I awoke and I felt like Peter was in trouble," he said.
On the third morning, also at 3 a.m., Joseph and Malissa Gould got a telephone call from their son, Petty Officer 3rd Class Peter Gould. The Marine Corps squad to which he was assigned was ambushed by the Taliban in the Garmsir district of Helmand province.
Gould, 24, downplayed his injuries. "He said he only had a few cuts and scratches," his father remembers. He made no mention of his actions during the morning-long firefight in which the Marines were attacked from three directions by 35 to 40 Taliban fighters armed with machine guns, improvised explosive devices and other weapons.
The Marines who were with Gould during the fight later praised his heroism to commanders. On Friday, at a ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Gould was awarded a Silver Star for bravery as the squad medic on that brutal morning.
Within moments of the patrol being attacked, Gould ran through enemy fire to rescue a wounded Marine. As the battle continued, Gould was severely wounded by a shrapnel blast to his face and neck from a roadside bomb but he continued to administer aid to "my" Marines.
"His inspirational actions and mental toughness under intense enemy fire led directly to saving at least one Marine's life that day," according to the Silver Star citation read to a gathering of Marines, family members and friends at a parade deck.
A second Silver Star also was awarded Friday to the family of Marine Cpl. Larry Harris Jr.
During the same attack, Harris was attempting to carry a Marine to safety when he stepped on a roadside bomb. Harris, a fire team leader, died instantly but the Marine he was carrying survived.
The citation presented to his parents and widow lauds Harris for "his bold leadership, wise judgment and complete dedication to duty."
Gould, one of eight children in the family, grew up in Syracuse, Kan., a farming community on the border with Colorado. One brother served in the Air Force, another was a Marine who served two combat tours in Iraq. Their father is the principal of a Christian high school.
Gould has undergone numerous surgeries, with more scheduled. He will leave active duty in June and hopes to study medicine, according to his girlfriend, Jackie Baysinger.