CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq -- Chief Warrant Officer David R. Dunfee recalls in vivid detail his battalion’s mission to seize two key bridges in the Iraqi city of An Nasariyah more than two years ago. He remembers the sounds that 7.62 mm AK-47 rounds made as they pinged off the Saddam Canal Bridge. He also remembers the Marines who fought and died there.
Despite that clear recollection, he doesn’t believe he did anything out of the ordinary, especially not something extraordinary enough to warrant the awarding of the nation’s third highest award for bravery in combat.
Dunfee received the Silver Star Medal from Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, Commanding General of the 2nd Marine Division in ceremony here March 10.
Born in West Virginia, and raised in Florida the soft spoken Marine was recognized for his fearlessness in action while serving as the battalion “Gunner” for 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Task Force Tarawa, I Marine Expeditionary Force in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the March 23 assault on enemy defenses in An Nasariyah, Dunfee dismounted from his vehicle and moved to an exposed position while under enemy fire in order to determine the composition and disposition of the enemy. In doing so, he was then able to provide assessment of the enemy and recommendations on how to employ friendly forces, which led to the destruction of nine Iraqi main battle tanks.
Dunfee was also recognized for placing his life before that of the Marines in his battalion when elements of 1st Marine Regiment mistakenly engaged a friendly unit as they passed through 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines’ lines.
His citation reads “from his location, he sprinted across open terrain to a position between the two units and using voice, hand and arm signals, he was successful in ceasing all fires.”
“I was just plain mad,” said Dunfee. “That is the best way I can describe it. I ran out yelling and beating on the sides of vehicles. I didn’t think about what I was doing I just wanted to stop what was happening.”
Established in 1918, the Silver Star is awarded to a person who is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Dunfee, while deeply honored to receive this award, still doesn’t think he alone deserves recognition. “To me every Marine I served with deserves this medal. When I told a Marine to move [to another position] there was never hesitation,” said the 26-year Marine Corps veteran. “Or if I told a Marine to follow me, I never had to look over my shoulder to see if he was there.”