MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The conference room was packed with Marine leaders with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment there to witness the battalion’s operations officer receive a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement in connection with combat operations.
Maj. Paul C. Merida, from Oakland, Calif., was awarded the medal for his achievements as the battalion’s operations officer in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from February to October 2005 in the Fallujah area of Iraq.
The 1994 graduate of the University of California-Davis initially planned and supervised the execution of a turnover with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines allowing the battalion to assume control of the area, a 300 square kilometer battle space, five days ahead of schedule.
Merida also balanced operational requirements and employed a wide range of resources, which included four Iraqi Security Force battalions and managed combat operations across their area of operation.
He established and planned the manning of four entry control points and one exit control point denying the enemy access into Fallujah.
The battalion conducted more than 4,050 cordon and searches, 17 battalion operations and captured over 450 suspected insurgents with his planning and supervision.
This was Merida’s second Bronze Star Medal, the first he received as a company commander in Afganistan. He explained the difference between the two awards.
“My first Bronze Star was awarded because of direct actions under fire as opposed to the actual planning of operations and command element,” he explained.
Now that Merida has four deployments under his belt, he is scheduled to leave for the Basic School in Quantico, Va., to continue spreading his knowledge of war fighting.
After receiving the award, Merida explained how it felt to be recognized for his achievements.
“This was definitely a huge honor to receive this award today and I won’t forget this,” he said as he shook hands with fellow leaders of the battalion.