MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The average day of a Marine deployed to a combat zone is anything but average. As the Global War on Terrorism rages on, Marines find themselves facing tough situations and decisions on a daily basis. With the lives of fellow Marines on the line, the ultimate goal is to return Marines home alive.
Lance Cpl. Blake M. Benson of Lenox, Mich., was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device here, June 21, for his actions taken while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.
While performing building raids in Iraq, Benson and his fellow Marines received fire. While engaged in the gunfight he was wounded in the leg, yet still provided enemy suppressing fire while other Marines moved to cover. While taking cover, his team leader was wounded, and Benson went after him. During his attempt to rescue him, he took a shot to the head that nearly destroyed his right ear and broke his jaw. Benson then continued to fire at the enemy until support arrived.
“That’s the short and sweet description of it,” Benson said frankly. “I don’t really like to talk about it much. I was doing what Marines do everyday out there.”
The 20-year-old is a combat engineer whose unit is often tasked with planning, organizing and employing demolitions, conducting route and area-sweeping operations and constructing explosive and non-explosive obstacles.
The unit also gets tasked with constructing fighting and protective positions, providing force protection measures and providing mission essential water and electrical support to various units, which is vital to the Marine Corps team.
Even now the quiet Marine is still recovering from his injuries.
“In December I went in for a surgery that would reconstruct my jaw and ear,” Benson explained. “I have one more surgery left to finish fixing my ear.”