MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Marines and sailors are fighting the Global War on Terrorism everyday and each new day can bring new hardships and difficult challenges for the young men and women serving their country.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Cedono, a scout with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (LAR), 2nd Marine Division, received numerous awards for the work he did during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Near the end of a search and cordon Cedono noticed a car displaying erratic driving patterns.
“I asked my squad leader, who was sitting right beside me, if I could open fire because the driver was acting extremely shady,” Cedono stated. “The vehicle kind of just popped out of nowhere.”
The 21-year-old and the Marines on the vehicle proceeded to run through the escalation of force procedures to warn the vehicle to slow down and move away from the patrol.
The suicide vehicle borne improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
“The first thing that I thought was that I was dead,” Cedono explained. “I felt the sand all over me. I didn’t know what happened. I opened up the hatch to exit the vehicle and the mechanic pulled me back in as the driver drove us out of the kill zone.”
“I was in shock, I couldn’t hear anything and I didn’t know what was going on,” Cedono stated.
His weapon was launched 80 feet away from the vehicle.
“After that I looked to see if everyone was okay. I started coming back into reality, everything started speeding up again and I started to get a little sick.”
He helped a Navy corpsman pull a Marine out of the damaged vehicle.
“At first I thought he was dead,” Cedono stated. “He was hunched over and there was blood all over the place.”
Cedono lost consciousness after helping pull the injured Marine from the vehicle. One of his fellow Marines was able to quickly wake him up.
“After I woke up I grabbed my combat lifesaver’s gear to tend to the injured Marine,” Cedono said.
The Jackson Heights, N.Y. native helped provide first-aid to the wounded Marine who had taken shrapnel to his shoulder, neck and face.
Cedono lost consciousness again after helping the injured Marine.
“I woke up and went to the vehicle to get some water,” he said. “That is when I realized that my shoulder was bleeding. I pulled out a piece of shrapnel and bandaged myself up.”
Cedono and the other Marines where then medically evacuated from the site.
He received one of two Purple Heart Awards and a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for the events of that day.