Five Marine Raiders were honored for valor they displayed during a March 8, 2020 firefight in northern Iraq. Four received Bronze Star medals with V devices, and a fifth earned a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with V device. Due to the classified nature of their mission, the Marine Corps declined to provide their names in the redacted citations. They are assigned to Marine Special Operations Company H, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command. The action took place as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the international mission to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and involved a mission against heavily fortified cave bunkers. The Marines launched their mission after the Isis fighters wounded three coalition fighters. The Bronze Star citations include:
• A master sergeant, who “hastily cleared multiple enemy caves while moving quickly to the crisis site.” He moved some 200 meters while exposed to enemy fire to establish a position from which the wounded comrades could be recovered. All told, he remained in the fight for seven hours.
• A staff sergeant, who exposed himself to enemy fire in order to provide suppressive fire while the casualties were being recovered. Even though he was “exhausted” and low on ammunition, he continued to lead his own element and that of another whose leader had been wounded. He remained in charge as his unit pulled back, again led them up the hillside, and then volunteered to remain behind to help with the ongoing recovery effort. Once more comrades arrived, he led them up to within 50 meters of the enemy positions while exposed to their fire.
• Another staff sergeant, who moved to clear “multiple enemy caves while moving quickly toward the enemy,” once he realized the situation the above-mentioned staff sergeant faced. He, too, moved across open terrain while under enemy fire and supported recovery of two of the casualties, while assisting in “temporarily neutralizing an enemy bunker.”
• A third staff sergeant, who also moved through terrain while under enemy fire. He provided cover fire to support the effort to remove one of the three casualties, ultimately contributing to the saving of that man’s life. He then ran across 200 meters of “exposed and rugged terrain to establish a critical support by fire position,” which helped other comrades extract the remaining two wounded men from the area.
The Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal went to a fifth staff sergeant, for coordinating and directing fires toward the enemy position. He too exposed himself to enemy fire as he moved to positions better suited for neutralizing the enemy position.
“Over the course of six hours and after being awake for over 24 hours, he continued to suppress the enemy position with precision,” the citation said. His action contributed to the effort to recover the casualties.
Another Marine Raider who took part in the action, Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Jones, received in August a Navy Cross – the service’s second-highest honor for combat valor – for his role in the action.