Marine Raider receives Navy Cross for actions fighting ISIS in Iraq

| September 9, 2021

Staff Sergeant Nicholas Jones receiving the Navy Cross from Commandant of the Marine Corps General Berger and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Black

Jeff LPH 3 sends in this Marine Corps Times article;

A former Marine staff sergeant received the Navy Cross on Aug. 26 for his 2020 heroic actions that saved the life of one French special operator and attempted to save, then recover the bodies of two Marine Raiders while fighting ISIS in northern Iraq.

Marine veteran Nicholas J. Jones, 29, of Olathe, Kansas, then an element leader from 2nd Raider Battalion, was working with allied special operators and Iraqi security forces to clear caves systems of enemy fighters when a neighboring unit came under heavy fire.

“Sunday, March 8, 2020 was a warm sunny day in northern Iraq, and among the beauty was erratic gunfire and explosions echoing through the deep valleys,” Jones said Thursday from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, after receiving the nation’s second highest award for valor.

“I heard mass chaos behind me and quick calls coming in through the radio with very little detail, until those piercing calls came through saying an eagle was down,” Jones said. “Something inside told me I needed to go now.”

The two MARSOC Marines down were Capt. Moises A. Navas and Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo. The two Marines had fallen down a steep ravine and were killed in the opening volley of the fight.

Wounded in the fight was a French special operator.

“That is when our mission changed from cave clearance to a recovery mission,” Jones said.

Jones said that day will always be “ingrained” in his mind as a failure ? a day he did not complete the mission. But his award citation speaks of the overwhelming heroism he exhibited against insurmountable odds.

“Under sustained and intense close range enemy fire, Staff Sergeant Jones maneuvered to the allied casualty, suppressed the enemy with small arms fire and grenades, and helped the wounded soldier get to a covered position for medical evacuation,” his award citation reads.

Though the French special operator was safe, Jones was not done.

He repeatedly attempted to recover the bodies of Pongo and Navas while “disregarding the rounds impacting all around him,” the citation said.

On his third attempt Jones was shot in the leg, but he refused medical treatment, instead opting to stay in the fight until he was forcibly removed and medevaced off the mountain, the citation said.

Additional forces were sent to the area to help push back the ISIS fighters and recover the bodies of Navas and Pongo, Marine Corps Times previously reported.

Jones credited all who fought with him that day for their heroism, which helped him stay alive.

“The actions taken on this day by each one of these men, many of whom are in the crowd today, were insurmountable,” Jones said. “There is absolutely no telling what anyone will do in a situation of such chaos, but I was trusting of everyone to make the right decision for the safety and betterment of the assault force.”

The wounds Jones sustained in that fight ultimately led to him to medically retire from the Corps.

More at the source. Click here to learn a bit about Major (posthumous) Navas and Gunny Pongo.

Category: Iraq, Isis, Marine Recon, Marines, Navy Cross, Navy Cross, Valor

Comments (7)

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  1. Fyrfighter says:

    BZ Marine! Big brass ones there.

  2. KoB says:

    Hardcore Warrior! “Jones credited all who fought with him that day…” BZ Marine!

    “…that such men live…”

    Thanks Mason and Jeff.

  3. Sparks says:

    Well done Sir. Damned well done indeed!

  4. AW1Ed says:

    Bravo Zulu, Marine!

  5. lmn0351 says:

    well done Marine……semper fi

  6. UpNorth says:

    Wow!! Must be hard to walk with those big brass ones clanging with each step. Well done, Marine.

  7. Old tanker says:

    Outstanding and I am glad they recognized your actions properly. You set a great example of what Marines teach their people. Well done Staff Sergeant.