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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Sgt. Maj. Ricky D. James, 2nd Tank Battalion's sergeant major, addresses friends, family and fellow Marines after being presented his Bronze Star Medal here march 1. James, a 43-year-old LaCygne, Kan. native, was presented the nation's fourth highest honor given for valor and meritorious service for his superior leadership while serving in Fallujah, Iraq alongside 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.

Photo by Cpl. Mike Escobar

Senior Kansan leader awarded nation’s fourth highest distinction

2 Mar 2006 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

A LaCygne, Kan. native was awarded the nation’s fourth highest distinction given for valor and meritorious service during a ceremony here March 1.

Brig. Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, 2nd Marine Division’s assistant commander, presented the Bronze Star Medal to Sgt. Maj. Ricky D. James, citing James’ superior leadership during his unit’s deployment to Iraq from January through June 2005.

The 43-year-old James served as the senior enlisted man for 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment as they conducted six months worth of counterinsurgency operations in and around Fallujah. 

The unit arrived there soon after U.S. forces first entered the city and focused on rooting out the remaining insurgent elements, rebuilding the community’s infrastructure and training the Iraqi Security Forces. 

According to his award citation, James spent every day of his time in Iraq visiting his Marines throughout the city and the surrounding countryside to address their concerns and keep up their spirits.

Additionally, he worked with upper-level commands to have 35 of his troops recognized and meritoriously promoted for their dedication to duty, a welcome boon to morale in an austere combat zone.

“The great things 3/8 did while we were in Iraq are all credit to the staff NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and officers of the battalion,” the humbled James said after being presented his medal.  “All the meritorious promotions and the (more than) 200 awards the Marines earned were because the staff NCOs and officers did a good job of leading the Marines.”

While giving credit to his subordinate leaders, James was nevertheless praised for participating in more than 150 total firefights and patrols, during which he constantly inspired his Marines with his poise and forceful leadership.  Even the highest echelons of command noticed this dedicated service.

“It’s a small unit battle out there, and the only reason we have good small unit leaders is because of great senior enlisted like Sgt. Maj. James,” McMenamin stated during James award presentation.  “The training and leadership he provided helped bring his young Marines home.”