MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- MARINE CORPS CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., (Sept. 23, 2005) – Marines stood a short distance behind their fellow comrades who were about to be recognized for wounds received and actions taken during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Family members and fellow Marines from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment were there as Marines were awarded their Purple Heart medals and other combat awards in a ceremony here Sept. 23.
“We are here to honor these men before us for all they have done,” explained Lt. Col. Stephen Neary, battalion commander.
The battalion left for Iraq in the early days of January returning home months later with some Marines who had gone above the call of duty along with those who were injured in the line of duty.
During combat operations the men of the battalion faced tough situations day in and day out bringing all the training they previously learned.
“Please remember those men who are standing before us, these are the best America has to offer,” Neary said.
Honoring the men of the battalion was the focus of the day’s ceremony. There were other wounded who were not able to join their fellow Marines in the ceremony.
“We need to also recognize and remember those who are still in hospitals around the USA still recovering from their wounds,” Neary stated.
The courage and bravery of all the men and women serving overseas was seen in a small glimpse when the Marines of the battalion came home to the welcoming crowds of family, friends and fellow Marines.
Receiving the Purple Heart Medals were Lance Cpl. Patrick K. Bagley, Gunnery Sgt. Benny R. Benton, Cpl. Omar Betancourt, Pfc. Rusty L. Brinker, Cpl. Wayne H. Bunch, Lance Cpl. Anthony D. Burton, Lance Cpl. Richard Butts, SSgt. Jason R. Cain, Capt. Erik A. Cooper, Lance Cpl. Adam R. Cox, Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery V. Dagenhart, Lance Cpl. Israel H. Espino, Lance Cpl. John K. Fromille, Sgt. Michael J. Haddle, Lance Cpl. Vincent A. Hawkins, Lance Cpl. Emmanuel Hernandez, Cpl. Ross M. Hohn, Lance Cpl. Brandon M. Hooley, Lance Cpl. Randy E. Howard, Gunnery Sgt. Sean C. Kirk, Pfc. John F. Konopka, Lance Cpl. Nicholas W. Leblanc, Lance Cpl. David A. Lowe, Petty Officer 3rd Class Jeffery A. Manalansan, Lance Cpl. Ryan D. Meadows, SSgt. Charles W. Moralez, Lance Cpl. Robert J. Murtha, Lance Cpl. Donnell C. Nelson, Cpl. Jose M. Ortiz, Lance Cpl. Lyndon B. Ortiz-Castillo, Cpl. Keith C. Parker, Lance Cpl. Alex J. Reyes, Chief Florian Rio, Sgt. Nolan G. Ruby, Lance Cpl. Anthony R. Rusciano, Hospitalman Jeremy J. Stack, Sgt. Luk
e T. Tatro, Lance Cpl. Michael T. Virgillio, Lance Cpl. Eric B. Walker, Lance Cpl. Travis B. Williams and Lance Cpl. Oscar Zuniga.
Receiving the Navy Commendation Medals with Combat “V’s” for valor were 1st Lt. Perry Akin, Gunnery Sgt. Robert L. Bailey, Capt. Erik A. Cooper, Sgt. Stephen J. Cornish, Gunnery Sgt. Jeffery V. Dagenhart, SSgt. Robert T. Hill, 1st Lt. Justin W. Huber, Sgt. Julian Jaramillo and Gunnery Sgt. Sean C. Kirk.
Receiving the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals with Combat “V’s” for valor were Cpl. Nathan R. Bednar, Sgt. Charles E. Bernal, Petty Officer 3rd Class, Aaron W. Christensen, Sgt. Craig M. Corsi, SSgt. Troy W. Gans, Hospitalman Mikael T. Gullett, SSgt. Ronald E. Jacobs, 2nd Lt. Steven M. Keisling, Sgt. Jeremy M. Miller, Cpl. William M. Morrow, Lance Cpl. Donnell D. Nelson, Cpl. Daniel A. Nichols, 1st Lt. Gianoulis Roussos, Sgt. Nolan G. Ruby, Gunnery Sgt. Brendan M. Slattery, Sgt. Luke T. Tatro, 1st Lt. Jared R. Thorton and Lance Cpl. Billy W. Tyree.