Two U.S. Marines credited for saving the lives of their fellow comrades will be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross this weekend for their heroic actions while deployed in Afghanistan.
During a ceremony at 1st MSOB Headquarters in Camp Pendleton Saturday, the posthumous honor will be received by the families of the Marines killed in action: Staff Sgt. R. Mote and Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian.
Both men were from 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion and died on duty in Afghanistan in 2012. Manoukian, a team commander, was from Los Altos Hills, Calif., while Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, hailed from El Dorado, Calif.
According to Navy officials, the men were both assigned to 1st MSOB, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when they came under intense enemy fire from an Afghan uniformed police officer attacking from inside the perimeter of their tactical operations center.
They were both on Marine Special Operations Team 8133 at the time of the enemy attack.
Navy officials said Mote was gravely wounded during the initial attack. He then exposed himself to a hail of gunfire in an effort to draw attention away from his fellow Marines, halting the shooter’s pursuit of his comrades. Mote continued fighting off the enemy, getting very close to the shooter, until he received mortal wounds and died in combat.
Navy officials said Mote’s courageous, selfless actions enabled his teammates to escape and ultimately forced the enemy to withdraw.
Meanwhile, Navy officials said Manoukian was working in the operations center when the attack began.
As shots from the enemy’s AK-47 ripped through the walls of the operations room, Navy officials said Manoukian commanded his Marines to move to safety as he exposed himself to fire and engaged the enemy.
Manoukian’s actions disrupted the enemy’s pursuit of his comrades and saved their lives. Outgunned, Manoukian was fatally wounded in action.
At the upcoming ceremony, the Navy Cross will be awarded to the late Marines by Major Gen. Mark A. Clark, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command.
Their posthumous Navy Cross honors will go down in history, as Mote and Manoukian become the third and fourth Marines in MARSOC’s seven-year history to be awarded the extremely prestigious award.
The men will also become the 15th and 16th Marines to receive the award for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Navy officials said the Navy Cross is the second highest valor award, second to the Medal of Honor and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded.
Ed. Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated how many Marines have received the honor of the Navy Cross. The article has been corrected and we regret the error.