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Ensign Troy Lawson, right, is presented with the Bronze Star Medal by Commander Vincent Martinez, commanding officer of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5.
Ensign Troy Lawson, right, is presented with the Bronze Star Medal by Commander Vincent Martinez, commanding officer of Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5. (Frank Whitman / Special to S&S)

NAVAL STATION, Guam — Members of Guam-based Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 were honored Friday morning for their achievements in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the war on terrorism.

The Bronze Star Medal was presented to Ensign Troy Lawson, and Navy and Marine Commendation Medals with Combat Valor were presented to Petty Officer 1st Class Xavier Gamez and to Petty Officer 2nd Class Phillip Taylor.

Lawson earned his medal for outstanding technical and tactical expertise as an integrated explosive ordnance assaulter with the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Arabian Peninsula, according to a Navy news release.

Both Gamez and Taylor served with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Division. While conducting reconnaissance along the Jordan-Iraq border, Gamez located and disabled a land mine surrounded by unexploded ordnance. He also planned and executed the controlled demolition of 15 mortar rounds without incident.

Taylor was accompanying a construction compliance team along the Syria-Iraq border when he identified two devices comprised of daisy-chained, high-explosive rounds. He cut the detonation cords, moved the devices to a remote location and conducted controlled detonations, according to the release.

“I just did my job,” Taylor said.

The medals were presented by Cmdr. Vincent Martinez, commanding officer of EODMU 5, who noted that Lawson’s Bronze Star was awarded by the Army and that the Commendation Medals were from the Marine Corps.

“One of the unique things about Navy EOD is that we support all the [Department of Defense] forces,” he said. “We support the joint war fighter.”

The three men said their training enabled them to do their jobs under combat conditions.

“They try to keep our training so realistic that the job is the same as the training,” Lawson said. “I don’t think the guys are focused on what’s happening around them as much as they are focused on the mission at hand — what we’re trained to do.”

Asked how he felt about his work during his deployment, Gamez said he felt like “we were actually making a difference out there — protecting people, saving lives, trying to help the Iraq army set up and stabilize.”

Also awarded ...

During the same ceremony, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal was presented to:

Lt. Edgar Rowe

BMCS Michael Lentz

QMC Jerry Holmes

AO1 James Makaneole

BM1 Richard Hofer

STG2 Matthew Strawn

BM2 Anthony Leigh

STG2 Brian Hopkins

Receiving the Combat Action Ribbon were:

GM2 Mark Brittain

QM1 Frank Valentine

MN1 Xavier Gamez

The Navy Achievement Medal and Senior EOD Tech Badge was presented to:

QMC Robert Hentzen

— Stars and Stripes

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