By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Staff Sgt. Cliff Wooldridge, 24, will receive the Marine Corps Times' 2014 Marine of the Year award in a ceremony Thursday (July 18) at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.
Wooldridge, a 2006 graduate of Port Angeles High School, is the son of Guy and Tammy Wooldridge of Port Angeles.
The couple were flown to Washington, D.C., to see their son receive the award.
Award recipients and their families were flown to Washington for a week of events, meetings with their members of Congress and service leaders, and sightseeing, culminating with tonight's award ceremony, which is expected to be attended by members of Congress, leaders of the service member's command and senior Pentagon officials.
Wooldridge is now assigned to the 50-member Marine Corps' Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams as a platoon sergeant for 5th Platoon, Bravo Company, out of Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Va.
The antiterrorism security teams is a crisis-response force responsible for U.S. Embassy reinforcement, evacuation, antiterrorism and security missions overseas.
In 2010, while assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Wooldridge was deployed to the Helmand province, an insurgent stronghold and poppy-growing region in southern Afghanistan.
During a 17-day mission into a Taliban-held valley, he led a successful attack to thwart an enemy ambush, engaging in personal hand-to-hand combat with a Taliban insurgent.
For his actions during the 2010 ambush, Wooldridge was awarded the Navy Cross in May 2012.
Wooldridge and the story of his actions that resulted in the Navy Cross are prominently featured in a 12-minute 2012 Marine Corps birthday video on the Marine Corps website, www.marines.mil.
He received the USO Marine of the Year award in December 2012 from Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. ,with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey attending, at a star-studded ceremony in December 2012.
Gannett Government Media Corporation publishes four military-themed weekly newspapers: the Army Times, Navy Times, Marine Corps Times and Air Force Times.
The newspaper awards recognize one member from each of the U.S. armed services, nominated by fellow service members, for going above and beyond by exemplifying selfless service in everything they do, both professionally and off duty in their communities.
The 2014 award recipients from other services are Navy Times Coast Guardsman of the Year BM1 Chase Severns of Boise, Idaho; Navy Times Sailor of the Year CTI1 Joshua Beemer of Windsor, Mo.; Air Force Times Airman of the Year Master Sgt. William Janczewski III of Harding, Pa.; and Army Times Soldier of the Year CW2 Karen Beattie of Cook, Minn.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.