Two Marines from the Marine Corps’ elite special operations unit will be awarded the Navy Cross this week for heroism during an insider attack in Afghanistan in 2012, Marine Corps Times reports.
Staff Sgt. Sky Mote and Capt. Matthew Manoukian will posthumously receive the military’s second-highest honor Saturday at the headquarters of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command’s (MARSOC) West Coast battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
According to MARSOC releases, both Marines were deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion Aug. 10, 2012, when they began to receive heavy fire from an Afghan police officer in their tactical operations center.
Badly wounded, Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, exposed himself to more gunfire in an attempt to draw attention away from his fellow Marines and distract the shooter.
“In his final act of bravery, he boldly remained in the open and engaged the shooter, now less than five meters in front of him,” MARSOC officials said in a release. “He courageously pressed the assault on the enemy until he received further wounds and fell mortally wounded.”
Meanwhile, Manoukian, who was the commander of the special operations team that came under attack, saw gunfire from an AK-47 tearing through walls of the operations room and quickly acted to direct his Marines to safety, exposing himself to gunfire as he did so, officials said. He put himself between the shooter and other Marines, drawing enemy fire and allowing them to get to safety.
“Outgunned, Manoukian continued to engage the enemy until he fell mortally wounded to the shooter’s overwhelming fire,” the release reads.
Manoukian, of Los Altos Hills, Calif., was 29 at the time of the attack. Mote, of El Dorado, Calif., was 27. Another 1st MSOB Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va., was also killed in the attack.
According to MARSOC officials, Mote and Manoukian will be the third and fourth members of MARSOC to receive the Navy Cross.