From OP 29 Online
Ayersman and his platoon were providing security for civil affairs personnel traveling in a mounted assault patrol to a hospital in Hit, Iraq. After the mission concluded, two light armored vehicles became stuck in the mud.
A third vehicle began recovery efforts when suspicious movement was seen in nearby buildings, said Ayersman, who has been deployed to Iraq once before.
"We set up our turret and readied our [tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile] just in case," said Ayersman.
Immediately after, small arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds began raining upon the approximately 60 Marines in 3rd Platoon and the MAP unit.
"From my vantage point on my LAV, I could see the plumes coming from the mortars [in front of me]," said the 32-year-old Ayersman.
"I actually had to shove my driver down and slam the hatch on him in order to swing my machine gun around," continued Ayersman. "I keyed in right on the insurgents when they started firing and the other Marines keyed in on my direction of fire."
Ayersman received praise from fellow Marines and in his citation for maintaining his calm during the attack.
"I know he was so steadfast that his calmness really calmed everyone else," said Cpl. Joshua S. Adams, who was also submitted for a Bronze Star and was Ayersman's TOW gunner. "People were yelling and screaming on the radio, and he came on and was very calm and spoke in a normal voice that they could all hear and it really reassured everybody."
After Ayersman radioed to his commander, authorization was given to fire the TOW missile at the mortar positions, which were hidden and firing from behind two walls.
While continuing to suppress enemy fire with his machine gun, Ayersman gave fire commands to Adams. Adams made ready to launch the missile when it misfired.
"When the TOW misfired, my training kicked in, and I knew almost instinctively what was wrong and I was able to fix that," said Adams.
When the hasty wiring repairs were completed, Ayersman gave fire commands again to Adams, who successfully launched the TOW missile over the walls more than 300 meters and down onto the enemy mortar position.
"After we fired the TOW, it was pretty quiet," said Ayersman. "We continued our recovery operations and carried on from there."
"I think it's simply amazing that after all the small arms fire, the mortars, and the RPGs that no one was injured at all," added Ayersman.
During the attack, Ayersman was pelted with shrapnel from a nearby mortar round hit. Shrapnel hit him in the face and helmet and knocked his goggles off.
"The concussion of that mortar threw me back into my hatch," said Ayersman. "I checked myself out real quick and I was fine, so I grabbed my machine gun and fired back at them again."
Adams received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device alongside Ayersman.