Three Okinawa Marines honored for valor in Afghanistan
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.
The firefight went on for about two hours before additional coalition forces arrived with air support.
Also recognized during the Camp Schwab ceremony Thursday was 1st Lt. Christopher J. Kearney, who received a Bronze Star with "V" for valor for his service as an adviser with an embedded training team in Afghanistan from February to November 2008.
Kearney participated in more than 200 combat missions while deployed, including several night air assaults, according to his medal citation.
And Sgt. Norman J. Era received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a "V" device.
Lt. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, commander of III Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Corps Bases Command, presented the medals to the 4th Regiment Marines.