Saturday, July 29, 2006
A Marine Sergeant credited with saving five fellow Marines in Iraq was presented the Navy Cross for heroism in combat. Robert J. Mitchell of Iowa was awarded the medal for his actions as a squad leader for Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, during an assault in the city of Fallujah in November 2004. While engaged in an intense gunfight in what then was an insurgent stronghold, five Marines were wounded and became pinned down in a house. Mitchell, 26, charged through enemy AK-47 fire and hand grenade explosions to reach the building. As he approached the house, Mitchell was hit in the left leg by a ricocheting bullet and suffered grenade-fragmentation wounds to his face and legs. Mitchell ignored his wounds to treat a critically injured Marine, then he applied first aid to other Marines. As he was doing this, he noticed an insurgent reach for a weapon. Mitchell killed the man with his combat knife.According to a Camp Pendleton press release, Mitchell was limping from his wounds and still under enemy fire when he assisted in the evacuation of the wounded. ''By his bold leadership and complete dedication to duty, Mitchell reflected extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations,'' the statement said. Mitchell left the Marine Corps in 2005 and now attends a motorcycle mechanics school in Phoenix. Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler presented the award during a ceremony, where Mitchell made a brief speech. The Navy Cross is second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor for combat heroism and distinguished service. Fifteen Marines have been awarded the Navy Cross for combat service in Iraq or Afghanistan, Marine officials said.