Insurgents had a relatively free run of Fallujah the six months preceding November 2004. With little or no Coalition presence in the city, they had turned the urban landscape into a warren - like maze of fortified positions, booby traps, and sniper positions. The terrain could not have been more demanding for the Marines called in to clear the city. First, however, they had to establish a foothold, a task that fell in part to then-2nd Lt. Ackerman and his platoon. On November 10th, he and his men entered the city in what became a six-day struggle to open operational lines.
Insurgents attacked from numerous directions as Ackerman’s Marines pushed into the city. Twice in the early moments of the shooting, Ackerman braved enemy fire to pull injured Marines to safety - and then organized their evacuation. But in the midst of the battle, the vehicle sent to recover the injured could not find their position. Ackerman charged from his cover into the open, dodged what his citation calls a “gauntlet of deadly enemy fire,” and directed the vehicle to the Marines.
Later, as Ackerman and his team were clearing a building, he noticed that his Marines were exposed on a rooftop. After ordering them down, he took their place and began marking targets for tanks as insurgents fired at him from all directions. Despite suffering shrapnel wounds, Ackerman continued to direct the attack, and coordinated four medical evacuations. “There is only one alternative,” Lt. Ackerman said later. “It is to do it or not do it.” For his leadership and actions, Ackerman was awarded the Silver Star on Jan. 12, 2007.