On Aug. 14, 2013 in Herat province, Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Robert T. Van Hook, a critical skills operator with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, took the fight to the enemy, and he didn’t hold back.

Under the cover of darkness, Van Hook led a Marine special operations team and a contingent of Afghan commandos into a small village nestled in a valley. The mission was to clear the town of Taliban fighters, ahead of an operation to engage the local leadership in the morning.