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Las Cruces Marine receives Navy Cross

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 5/3/2004

Story by Cpl. Luis R. Agostini

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(May 3, 2004) -- Marine Sgt. Marcos A. Martinez received the Navy Cross from the Secretary of the Navy, Honorable Gordon R. England, during a ceremony Monday at 5th Marine Regiment parade deck here.

"These brave Marines did good things without notice," said England, "and without the acclaim of crowds. But they got the acclaim of their fellow Marines." Martinez, 22, a Las Cruces, N.M., native, received the naval service's second highest award for extraordinary heroism while serving as first fire team leader for 2nd squad, 1st Platoon, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom April 12, 2003. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award.

A corporal at the time, Martinez responded to a call to reinforce 1st Platoon, which was under attack by enemy forces. Under fire, Martinez deployed his team in supporting positions for a squad assault.

He assumed control after his squad leader was wounded. While other Marines tended to the wounded squad leader, Martinez single-handedly assaulted the building and killed four enemy soldiers with a grenade and his rifle.

"All of the training is what helped me out," said Martinez. "I relied on my training."

In effect since April 1917, and established by an Act of Congress on Feb. 4, 1919, the Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself/herself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor.

The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party. To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility. More than 6,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded since World War I.

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