A contingent of Marines assigned to protect the U.S. Embassy in Sudan were awarded for their role in the evacuation of American citizens as violence gripped the capital city of Khartoum amid the country’s collapse into civil conflict.
Eleven Marines from the embassy’s security detachment were awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for their role in the evacuation.
“The example that you have set protecting the life of the ambassador and the lives of all the people who were at the embassy has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, speaking at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. “I wanted to make sure that before you left this building and head onto other assignments, that I came here today to look you in the eye and say, ‘Thank you.’”
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Since 2021, Sudanese Army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and paramilitary leader Hamdan Daglo had jointly run the country under the promise of returning it to democracy after a 2019 coup ousted longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. In April, months of tensions broke out into open conflict between al-Burhan and Daglo, with the fighting rapidly engulfing the capital city of Khartoum. Hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed in the conflict.
The U.S. withdrawal from the embassy took place on April 23 with approximately 100 U.S. troops, including elements of Navy SEAL Team 6 and the Army’s 3rd Special Forces Group. Three MH-47 Chinook helicopters flying from Djibouti evacuated American embassy staff and their families along with the small Marine security detachment, airlifting them first to Ethiopia and then to Germany and the United States.
“I continue to be impressed with my Marines’ ability to remain engaged and take are of one another the same way they did in Khartoum,” said the detachment commander, Staff Sgt. Derek Ferrari, who received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
The other members of the security detachment who received commendations were Sgt Komlan S. Akli of Lyons, Illinois; Sgt Joshua P. Arledge of Enterprise, Alabama; Sgt Kyle S. Bangerter of Sarasota, Florida; Sgt Alonzo J. Longstreet of Milpitas, California; Sgt Manuel Moncayo Jr. of El Paso, Texas; Cpl Jason R. Castillo of Houston, Texas; Cpl Erik O. Hernandez of Las Vegas, Nevada; Cpl Michael T. Jones of Flowery Branch, Georgia; Cpl Marvin J. McCaskill of Salisbury, Maryland; Cpl Christopher B. Wolfert of Keizer, Oregon; and Cpl Karl D. Meier of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin.
Marines have served in embassy security roles since 1948, and one of the most visible representations of this duty is, unfortunately, the embassy evacuation. There is, of course, the iconic evacuation from Saigon, Vietnam, in 1975, which saw two members of that security detachment killed and one Marine master sergeant step off the roof of the embassy as literally the last U.S. service member in Vietnam. More recently, the 2021 evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan marked the end of a chaotic military drawdown in the country after two decades of war.
“The detachment did exactly what is expected of U.S. Marines during times of uncertainty and being awarded for that by the SECNAV means a lot to myself and the rest of the detachment,” said Akli during the awards ceremony.
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