The stories of heroism that have come out of Iraq and Afghanistan from the combat veterans there are remarkable. They tell a tale of men and women who braved fire, and sacrificed any accord for their own safety for the men next to them. This is one of those stories.
This is the story of the late Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, who perished July 29, 2012, in Bagdhis province, Afghanistan, fighting to his last breath in an enemy ambush.
According to a recent report by the Marine Corps Times, when a group of Afghan special forces soldiers came under enemy fire, Gifford, a team chief assigned to Marine Special Operations Command, jumped onto an all-terrain vehicle and sped 800 meters to their aid, administering first aid and moving the wounded to an evacuation zone, under enemy fire all the while.
He then returned across that 800-meter stretch of unprotected terrain to defend another group of Afghan commandos.
He killed an insurgent who was firing from a window, scaled a building full of Taliban fighters and dropped a fragmentation grenade down the chimney, and continued to engage the enemy before falling to enemy fire.
For his bravery and sacrifice, Gifford is set to be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for gallantry in combat, next week.
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John Paxton will present the award to Gifford’s family in a ceremony at MARSOC Headquarters aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.