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Sgt. Maj. John Ploskonka, 9th Engineer Support Battalion's sergeant major, reads the Bronze Star Medal citation for Lt. Col. Mark J. Menotti, the battalion's commander, as Menotti, left, stands at attention during an awards ceremony on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. Maj. Patrick R. Hittle, to Menotti's left, the battalion executive officer, also received a Bronze Star.
Sgt. Maj. John Ploskonka, 9th Engineer Support Battalion's sergeant major, reads the Bronze Star Medal citation for Lt. Col. Mark J. Menotti, the battalion's commander, as Menotti, left, stands at attention during an awards ceremony on Camp Hansen, Okinawa. Maj. Patrick R. Hittle, to Menotti's left, the battalion executive officer, also received a Bronze Star. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa — The 9th Engineer Support Battalion’s two top officers received Bronze Stars for their leadership in the Anbar region of Iraq during the battalion’s August 2006-to-March deployment.

In a ceremony Thursday, Lt Col. Mark J. Menotti, the battalion’s commander, and Maj. Patrick R. Hittle, the executive officer, told assembled Marines that the medals were a result of a total unit effort.

“These kinds of awards are not representative of what a person does as an individual but of the work of the organization,” Menotti said.

Hittle said his Marines are the ones who earned the medals.

“I feel like I should give this award back; I don’t feel I did any of this stuff,” he said.

During the deployment, Menotti and Hittle oversaw 370 combat missions that involved route clearance and repair, and helped establish turnover of the area to Iraqi Security Forces control, according to their medal citations.

The two were also credited with supervising:

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