03 April 2009

Three Okinawa Marines honored for valor in Afghanistan

From left, Cpl. Jason D. Jones was awarded a Silver Star; 1st Lt. Christopher J. Kearney was awarded a Bronze Star with “V” for valor; and Sgt. Norman J. Era was awarded a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a “V” device during a ceremony at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, on Thursday. The Marines, all with the 4th Marine Regiment, were recognized for their actions in Afghanistan. Photo: Cindy Fisher / S&S.

Three Okinawa Marines honored for valor in Afghanistan

By Cindy Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, April 3, 2009

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa — Cpl. Jason D. Jones’ first thought when he heard the crack of rifle fire in the predawn hours was the possibility of an accidental discharge by one of the Afghan National Army soldiers he was mentoring.

"But then, the [rocket-propelled grenades] started going off," said Jones, a member of the 4th Marine Regiment.

That’s when he knew they were under attack, he said after a ceremony here Thursday, during which he was awarded a Silver Star for his actions on the morning of July 13, 2008, as part of Embedded Training Team 5-3.

The San Angelo, Texas, native hadn’t even put on his combat gear when an estimated 200 insurgents attacked Vehicle Patrol Base Wanat, a newly established combat operating post. Just the day before, they had placed wire around the camp, Jones recalled.

Inside the post, a platoon of U.S. soldiers, a platoon of Afghan National Army soldiers and the three embedded training team Marines immediately began returning fire, said Jones, 24.

His medal citation recounts how he and another Marine dashed 35 meters through enemy fire to rescue a seriously wounded Afghan soldier.

Then they heard a call from U.S. soldiers that their observation post was about to be overrun.

"We had to do something," Jones said.

He and a fellow Marine grabbed machine guns and ammunition and sprinted more than 100 yards through enemy fire to man the post and repel the attack.

Read the rest of the story about the Marines at the Battle of Wanat with more photos.

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