June 23, 2004

Lejeune Marines, sailors to receive citations for heroic actions in Iraq

By C. Mark Brinkley
Times staff writer

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Hundreds of Camp Lejeune Marines and sailors are to be honored Thursday for heroic actions during the war in Iraq.
Troops from the 2nd Marine Regiment – along with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which was attached to Regimental Combat Team 2 for the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom — will receive their Presidential Unit Citation in a 9 a.m. ceremony at the North Carolina base. Navy Secretary Gordon England approved the award Oct. 31 for I Marine Expeditionary Force and its supporting units, citing their “extraordinary heroism and outstanding performance against enemy forces” during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“This ceremony is being conducted now because the regiment wanted to wait until 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines returned from their recent deployment to Afghanistan,” said Capt. Jeff Pool, a 2nd Marine Division spokesman. “2/8 was an integral part of RCT-2.”

The award was announced in a Nov. 3 Corpswide message, MarAdmin 507/03, which includes a list of eligible units, commands and detachments. Among them are Marines and sailors with several II MEF and Reserve units that served under I MEF during the Iraq war, as well as U.S. Army and British units.

The last I MEF unit to receive the Presidential Unit Citation was the 1st Marine Division, for combat action in Vietnam during 1967-1968. The ribbon, which features three horizontal stripes of blue, gold and red, is a standout on a leatherneck’s ribbon bars, worn just after the Combat Action Ribbon and before the Joint Unit Meritorious Award.

According to the award citation, Marine units covered a distance of about 500 miles between March 21 and April 24, reaching as far north as Tikrit.