MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines often go unrecognized for the jobs they do. The faithful service, self-sacrifice, and adaptability in tough situations often go unseen. Marines don’t fight for recognition. They fight for freedom and strive to keep the band of brothers they left with safe, so they can all return home together.
Corporal Matthew D. Palacios of Lorain, Ohio, is a prime example that these good deeds do not go unnoticed. The combat engineer with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion was awarded the Bronze Star medal with a combat distinguishing device here Nov. 22 for his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. “It was a bitter-sweet feeling,” said Palacios, a 2003 graduate of Loraine South View High School. “It was an honor, but I think about the other Marines in my unit that did great things and were not recognized. They went above and beyond the call of duty.”
During a combat operation, his platoon was tasked with clearing houses, destroying weapons caches and enemy forces along the western sector of the company’s area of operations near the city of Al Fajr. Palacios was part of the breach team for the assault squad of the platoon that moved to the courtyard to make entry into a targeted building. When they entered, they were under heavy fire from the enemy’s position within the building. He and two other Marines were wounded during the firefight with the insurgents as they went to take cover. An insurgent threw a grenade at the Marines, and although wounded, Palacios picked up the grenade and threw it back at the enemy. The grenade exploded around the insurgents, allowing the Marines to move quickly out of the building.
The 20-year-old doesn’t take all the credit for his success.
“A big thing that helped me was my leadership and my platoon,” Palacios explained. “My squad leader taught me everything I know about engineering and about being a Marine.”
Palacios also had the wellbeing of his fellow Marines in mind.
“We all came out there together,” Palacios said. “I wanted to go home with everyone I went to Iraq with.”