MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- A North Kingstown, R.I. native was awarded one of the military’s highest decorations during a ceremony here Jan. 27.
Brigadier Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, 2nd Marine Division’s assistant commander, presented Maj. John Polidoro the Bronze Star Medal citing his outstanding work while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March to September 2005.
During that time, 34-year-old Polidoro served as the executive officer for 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, a unit that Polidoro said helped Iraqi Security Forces promote peace and stability to approximately 10,000 square mile-sized area of western Iraq.
He was responsible for overseeing the operational, administrative and logistical support for more than 1,000 Marines and sailors, along with helping his staff plan counterinsurgency offensive and information campaigns in areas of the country bordering Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan.
“You’re only as good as the people that you work with,” stated Polidoro humbly after being presented the military’s fourth highest award given a U.S. service member for bravery, heroism or meritorious service. “All I did was coordinate the staff section’s efforts and make sure everyone was on the same sheet of music.”
The long hours he and his men put in yielded positive results in the battalion’s area of operations, Polidoro added. Notable among the progress his unit helped bring about there was a 50 percent decrease in the insurgents’ use of improvised explosive devices, currently the leading troop killer in Iraq.
Additionally, Polidoro stated that the positive relations built and fostered with the local sheiks and government leaders led to improved safety for soldier and citizen alike, along with a significant number of residents who would show up wanting to serve with the ISF.
“I was the liaison between us, (the city of) Rutbah and the security forces in the area,” Polidoro continued. “We would always talk about how to improve security and would work to listen to each other’s grievances and concerns.”
Despite his efforts to aid his Marines and the Iraqi people alike, Polidoro said he was “honored and humbled” to receive the Bronze Star, but that the credit should go to his men and junior officers. It is they who truly helped bring about a better Iraq, he said.
“It’s definitely a better place than when we first got there, and I take that as an indicator that we’re succeeding in our mission.”