MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A Tryon, N.C. native was awarded one of the military’s highest decorations during a ceremony here Jan. 27.
Brigadier Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, 2nd Marine Division’s assistant commander, presented Maj. Ladd W. Shepard the Bronze Star Medal citing his outstanding work while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to September 2005.
This medal is the fourth highest award given a U.S. service member for bravery, heroism or meritorious service.
“I have a hard time accepting this, since there are so many others who deserve it much more,” said 32-year-old Shepard after the ceremony.
Nevertheless, he accepted this distinction for serving as the operations officer for 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, a unit that helped Iraqi Security Forces promote peace and stability to an approximately 10,000 square mile-sized area of western Iraq bordering Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan.
According to his award citation, Shepard planned and executed numerous missions that yielded hundreds of pounds of ordnance and dozens of arms, along with decreasing the insurgents’ use of improvised explosive devices against Coalition and Iraqi troops in the area by 50 percent. These roadside bombs remain the top troop killer in Iraq.
Additionally, Shepard was a member of his battalion’s targeting cell, where he put his insight into the Iraqi culture to plan more than 40 raids that netted approximately 80 insurgents, two of which were among the unit’s most wanted individuals.
“I’m thankful for this recognition, but it’s not about me,” said Shepard, a 1995 North Carolina State University graduate. “It’s about the heroes which I served with who sacrificed alongside me.”
“These men and women are and always will be my greatest heroes,” the humbled Shepard continued, now quoting former 2nd Marine Division commander, Lt. Gen. John Sattler
He added that he was blessed to wake up every day to “serve in the company of these giants.”