Continuing with my theme on heros, here’s one from the Marine Corps.
Thanks for your service gentlemen.
CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
Navy Secretary Gordon England pinned the Silver Star on Marine Cpl. Timothy C. Tardif at Camp Pendleton yesterday. Staff Sgt. Adam R. Sikes (center) also received the Silver Star; Sgt. Marco A. Martinez (at far left) received the Navy Cross.
By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
May 4, 2004
CAMP PENDLETON – As Sgt. Marco A. Martinez read his Navy Cross citation, the words took him back to April 12, 2003, and the battle of Tarmiya.
After his squad leader was wounded, Martinez, then a corporal, rallied the troops. At one point, his men came under fire from a building.
“Enduring intense enemy fire and without regard for his own personal safety, Cpl. Martinez launched a captured enemy rocket-propelled grenade into the building . . . allowing a wounded Marine to be evacuated,” read the citation accompanying the medal.
Later in the battle, “he single-handedly assaulted the building and killed four enemy soldiers with a grenade and his rifle,” according to the citation.
Yesterday, Navy Secretary Gordon England presented the Navy Cross to the 22-year-old Martinez and the Silver Star to two other 2nd Battalion, 5th Regiment Marines – Staff Sgt. Adam R. Sikes, 27, of Aliso Viejo, and Cpl. Timothy C. Tardif, 22, of Huntington Beach – before a gathering of hundreds of Marines at Camp Pendleton.
A spokeswoman at the base said the combat medals might be the highest awards presented so far to members of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force who fought their way into Baghdad last year.
Gordon also presented the wife of Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr. of Fallbrook with a posthumous Silver Star.
It was little more than a year ago that 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines was ambushed in a hail of small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire at Tarmiya.
When asked after the ceremony if he was afraid, Martinez said quietly, “There’s really no time for fear.”
Martinez, of Las Cruces, N.M., who in boots might be 5 feet 7 inches tall and weigh 140 pounds, added, “Through the whole firefight, I really wasn’t scared. It was more I wanted to kill them before they kill me.
“Reading the citation, I remember what I did and what I saw that day,” Martinez said. “During combat, the first 10 to 20 seconds moved in slow motion, but when you realize that if you don’t move fast enough you are going to get shot, it goes back to real time. It’s hard to explain.”
The Navy Cross is the Navy’s second-highest decoration for bravery after the Medal of Honor.
In the same battle, Sikes and Tardif earned their Silver Stars, the third-highest decoration for heroism during combat.
“Staff Sgt. Sikes charged alone across 70 meters of fire-swept ground to close on the first enemy strong point, which he cleared with a grenade and rifle fire,” according to his citation. He then moved to the roof of a three-story building that was exposed to enemy fire. There he adjusted mortar fire and “decimated an enemy position,” the citation read.
Like Martinez and Sikes, Tardif belonged to 1st Platoon, Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.
“Cpl. Tardif charged across a road under intense small arms and rocket propelled grenade fire inspiring his Marines to follow his example,” according to his citation. “Engaged in intense close quarters battle, he received significant shrapnel wounds.”
Tardif later collapsed from his injuries. He said a blood transfusion on a medical evacuation helicopter saved his life. No Marines were killed at Tarmiya, though a handful were wounded.
Gordon presented Lori Bohr with her husband’s Silver Star.
Gunnery Sgt. Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr. was killed April 10 during a mission to take a presidential palace in Baghdad.
“When the lead vehicles of the convoy reached a dead-end and were subjected to enemy fire, Gunnery Sgt. Bohr continued to boldly engage the enemy while calmly maneuvering his Marines to safety,” the citation read.
“My husband really believed in what he was doing over there,” Lori Bohr said.
The story I posted earlier references Sgt. Marco A. Martinez, so I felt it fitting to post the awarding of his Navy Cross as well.