MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Family members, friends, Marines and city officials gathered for the fifth annual American Hero Awards May 20, 2011, at Sywanyks Scarlet & Gold nightclub in downtown Jacksonville, N.C.
The awards ceremony was hosted by Mainstreet, an organization comprised of various local businesses that support military events and honor the heroic actions of Marines and sailors from the East Coast. This year, five Marines were honored while one of them took home the prestigious John Archer Lejeune Award of Bravery.
“You guys have all committed heroic acts, so you’re all winners,” said John Reed, the chief executive and executive director of Mainstreet. “But one of you will receive the John Archer Lejeune Award. These individuals’ actions have saved countless lives.”
The nominees were Cpl. Benjamin I. Stellick with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, Sgt. Greg M. Palmere with 2nd Marine Logistics Group, Gunnery Sgt. Lawrence R. Ott with Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, Sgt. Leroy N. Richie with Marine Corps Installation East, and Sgt. Gil C. Frazier with 2nd Marine Division.
Brig. Gen. W. Lee Miller, the acting commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, was on hand to present the award and said a few words before the winner was announced. Miller made a point to acknowledge the spouses of each nominee.
“The other real heroes in this tough fight we have been in for over 10 years now are the spouses,” said Miller. “Our spouses make sure we know how tough it is for everybody else back here; these are the other real heroes.”
All nominees were presented with a plaque, a gold dog tag and other gifts from local businesses.
The winner of the John Archer Lejeune Award of Bravery was Frazier. He was recognized for multiple heroic acts while serving with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, during combat operations in Afghanistan.
On Dec. 3, 2010, Frazier’s platoon conducted a patrol in search of enemy weapons, improvised explosive devices and enemy fighting positions. Within the first 45 minutes of the patrol, the squad came under direct fire. After one of his fellow Marines was shot in the head, Frazier rushed to his assistance while continuing to maneuver his unit towards the enemy.
According to Frazier’s Bronze Star citation, he demonstrated superb and exemplary courage under fire with an aggressive tendency to seek out and destroy the enemy with his squads. His calm leadership in the face of chaos showed his devotion to country and Corps, his actions are envied by Marines around him, it said.
As the ceremony drew to an end, attendees enjoyed food, cocktails, live music entertainment and complimentary gifts.
“I really enjoy hosting this event,” said Reed. “It’s very important we recognize these individuals for what they have done and continue to recognize them annually. These Marines are all truly heroes.”