Marine awarded Bronze Star for Afghan explosion

By Charles Ames on November 5, 2010

In July 2009, Alpha Co., 1st Bn, 5th Marines, nearly 200 men strong, conducted an infiltration of Nawa in southern Afghanistan.  The first day they came under several firefights but were able to establish Combat Outpost Porghar.

The company started patrols to root out Taliban fighters.  On Aug 26, 2009, the day was over 100°.  A dismounted patrol from "A" 1/5 slowly and quietly reconned a cornfield checking up on intel about insurgent activity.  The Marines hoped to keep the locals safe from suffering Taliban retribution; on one day they uncovered as many as 17 improvised explosive devices. As the patrol passed a nearby embankment, a hidden Taliban insurgent pulled a string leading to a claymore. Nothing.  Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan noticed the rustling, shouted for the patrol to look out and pushed fire team leader Lance Cpl. Cody Gibson out of the way.  The insurgent pulled again and an ear-splitting blast and shrapnel filled the air.

As the smoke cleared, Gibson realized his squad has been decimated.  Gibson began triage on his buddies while providing a SitRep back to the base and security until a relief force could arrive.

Capt. Lance Day was the commander of "A" 1/5.  He towers at 6'9", but pauses, visibly moved by Gibson's actions as he recounts them today, Nov 1, 2010.

"I nearly lost the QRF (Quick Reaction Force)."  He clearly recalls Gibson tending to his troops, despite Gibson having a severe concussion and shrapnel to his legs, his face blackened by the explosion.  "I don't know where you find that", Day says about Gibson's composure throughout.

Lt. Col. Joseph Raftery has the honor of presenting Gibson's Bronze Star and wraps up with, "It's quite a story. I'm humbled by it."

Now Individual Ready Reserve status, Gibson was invited to come to the Navy/Marine Corps Reserve unit on JBLM to receive his award.

Now awarded with the Bronze Star with Valor Device, Gibson is subdued about his actions that day.

"Just doing my job," is his statement.  "All the Marines that were there would have done the same thing."

The final quote that appears on citations never fails to stir the blood and deftly describes Gibson's action; "Lance Cpl. Gibson's zealous initiative, courageous action, and exceptional dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps..."

Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan is being submitted for the Navy Cross posthumously.