Staff Sgt Nicholas Jones, from the 2d Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command will be awarded the Navy Cross on August 26, 2021. He will be awarded the honor for his heroic actions of March 8, 2020 during a firefight with ISIS in Afghanistan. The medal will be presented by Marine Commandant David Berger.
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The Navy Cross is the 2nd highest valor award for the Marine Corps after the Medal of Honor. SSgt Jones will become the 8th Marine Raider to receive the honor.
March 8, 2020, Northern Iraq
To rid a cave complex full of ISIS fighters was the objective of Afghani forces that day. The Marine Raiders were accompanying them in the rugged terrain. The barricaded fighters had just ambushed another element with heavy fire. A French Special Forces member was wounded, then two other Marine Raiders.
Jones, a native of Olathe, KS, was an Element Leader accompanying Iraqi security forces in an operation to clear enemy positions in the mountains of Northern Iraq, when multiple barricaded enemies unleashed a heavy volume of fire on an adjacent element, immediately wounding a French special operator and subsequently wounding two Marine Raiders.
Jones seized the initiative and organized a counterattack. Under sustained, accurate enemy fire at close range, he maneuvered to the French casualty, suppressing the enemy 20 meters away with his rifle and grenades while helping to move the casualty to a covered position and subsequent medical evacuation. Turning his attention to two fallen teammates in a steep ravine, Jones again exposed himself to the enemy caves, firing his rifle and throwing grenades to drive the enemy back. With rounds impacting all around him, Jones continued to engage the enemy at close range until he was driven back by a heavy volume of accurate enemy fire. Nearly five hours into the firefight, he led a third and final attack on the enemy positions, again exposing himself to engage the enemy, before he was struck in the leg by enemy small arms fire. Refusing medical treatment and pain medication, he continued to fight until he was medically evacuated. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and unconquerable spirit, Staff Sgt. Jones reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.DVIDSHub
The two Marine raiders who perished despite repeated attempts to help them were ones we reported on last year: Gunnery Sgt Diego Pongo and Capt. Moises Navas according to Stripes.
After his injury, 11 year Marine veteran SSgt Jones was forced to medically retire from the injuries he sustained in the battle. He had hoped to stay in the Marine Corps for 20 years.
“I was crushed,” he said. “It was such a good time with the boys. … It makes you feel amazing to be around that community all the time.”
He founded Talons Reach Foundation to continue serving the special operations community by providing tools and resources for those suffering from injuries, losses of brothers in arms, or from a lack of purpose after leaving the service.
The organization focuses on outdoor adventures, mindfulness and meditation activities, its website says. Their first event is planned for March 8, 2022, the second anniversary of the Iraq operation.Stripes
The battle is different now for Special Operators, but thanks to people like SSgt Nicholas Jones (ret), there is hope. The stress, fatigue, poor sleep, hypertension and loss of purpose of a Special Forces member who has transitioned is what Jones is targeting in his Foundation. Talon’s Reach has three board members, not including his Service dog Fletcher (head of Puplick Relations), who have been US MARSOC Marines for several years. Semper Fi, men, thank you for taking on this new challenge.
Featured photo: screenshot of SSgt Nicholas Jones (ret) via Talons Reach Foundation
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