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Marine awarded Navy Cross for actions during Afghanistan firefight

Gunnery Sgt. Richard Jibson

SAN DIEGO — A Marine stationed at Twentynine Palms, California, has been awarded the Navy Cross for "courageous leadership, composure under fire and tactical expertise" during a five-hour firefight with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2012.

Gunnery Sgt. Richard Jibson, 34, of Muskegon, Mich., received the award Tuesday during a ceremony at the sprawling desert base.

During the May 28, 2012, attack by Taliban fighters on Marines defusing a buried bomb in an Afghan village, Jibson "unhesitatingly placed himself between the Marines and the enemy, returning fire and allowing them to safely reach cover," according to the Navy Cross citation.

On multiple occasions, Jibson "bravely left covered positions and crossed open terrain many times under withering small-arms and machine-gun fire to provide suppressive fire, inspire his comrades, and direct the fire and maneuver of the entire coalition force."

Jibson was on his fourth combat deployment. For Marines, the Navy Cross is second only to the Medal of Honor for combat bravery.

Jibson said his actions were guided by the training he received before his first warzone deployment, to Iraq: "When you get thrown into the hotseat — perform, perform."

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