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The Final Duty Station This forum is presented by Retired GySgt Bill Conroy. It is a listing of those that have received orders for their final duty station. These Marines have given their all. We now give our honor.

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Old 04-15-2007, 00:51 AM
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Steadfast valor, and a Navy Cross

Steadfast valor, and a Navy Cross

Marine Corps honors fallen infantryman
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Apr 14, 2007 8:50:05 EDT

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — He had just turned 20, a young rifleman from New Mexico who was meritoriously promoted to lance corporal in a break between intense firefights in battle for Fallujah in late 2004.

But the action of Lance Cpl. Christopher S. Adlesperger on Nov. 10, 2004 — his reaction and response after his squad’s point man, his best friend, was shot and killed as they entered a building — already has become part of the Corps’ combat lore.

On Friday, Adlesperger, who died in Fallujah one month after that ill-fated battle, joined an elite brotherhood when the Marine Corps posthumously awarded him the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest for valor in combat.

The medal is the 15th Navy Cross awarded to Marines for their combat actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. Adlesperger is the fifth member of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, to receive the Navy Cross, the most service crosses given to members of any unit that’s fought in Iraq or Afghanistan so far.

Adlesperger “demonstrated courage above and beyond the call of duty,” Maj. Gen. John Paxton, who commands 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, told a crowd during an afternoon ceremony after he presented Navy Cross medals to Adlesperger’s parents.

“There were five phases of the gunfight that day… [and] Chris was there all five times. He was there out at front,” said Paxton, his voice cracking slightly at times as he spoke about the young rifleman.

After forcing their way into the building, he noted, Adlesperger single-handedly cleared a stairway — a job that often requires a fire team if not a full squad, secured an evacuation site for the wounded, moved the wounded to safety and fought insurgent fighters, even knocking out an enemy machinegun.

Adlesperger, the two-star general said, represented “what valor was all about. Quiet, steadfast valor.”

Adlesperger, who hailed from Albuquerque, N.M., had followed his best friend, Lance Cpl. Erick Hodges, into a house as they cleared buildings in Fallujah’s Jolan district, a hotbed of insurgent activity, in the early days of the fall incursion to retake the city. The enemy machinegun that killed Hodges also wounded two other Marines, and Adlesperger immediately went into full combat mode, firing at insurgents in the house even as an enemy grenade exploded nearby, wounding him with shrapnel.

Adlesperger fought through the stairway, clearing it and the rooftop, where he moved the wounded men to safety. He continued to battle insurgents, firing at them from different locations, and he rejoined the platoon to lead point on a final assault on a machinegun position in the nearby courtyard. He’s credited with knocking out a major insurgent position in Jolan.

Adlesperger’s platoon commander, 1st Lt. Michael Cragholm, recalled him as “a model Marine: Clean-cut, muscular, lean.”

“He is the warrior that the Marine Corps will remember,” said Cragholm, now a series commander training recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

Adlesperger — known as “Sperg” to friends like Cpl. Carlos Batista — will long be remembered for his leadership, bravery and unending energy.

“He was the kind of person everyone looked up to,” Batista said. “He’s always the first one in the door, the most motivated Marine I’ve met.”

“He was always the motivated one, always the one in the front,” Sgt. Justin Hannah told the crowd. “I’m proud to say I fought with Christopher Adlesperger.”

If he could ask him today, Hannah noted , “he would just tell me that he was doing his job.”

Adlesperger’s family, including his mother and stepfather, father and siblings, listened intently as the Marines spoke. The camouflage-clad men of 3/5 stood in formation in front of a large U.S. flag and waved in the steady breeze.

“He was just a very special young man,” said Annette Griego, Adlesperger’s mother. Her husband, Phillip Griego, added: “He set a very good example for his brothers and sister.”

Gary Adlesperger said his son would have appreciated the ceremony but preferred less attention. “He was very humble. He would be embarrassed by it,” he said. “But he would have been honored.”

Adlesperger’s medal is the fifth Navy Cross awarded to men with 3/5, the most service crosses given to members of any unit that’s fought in Iraq or Afghanistan so far. The others:

** 1st Lt. Brian R. Chontosh, combined anti-armor platoon commander with Weapons Company, for his actions after his platoon came under a coordinated ambush south of Dawaniyah on March 25, 2003. After leading an assault on a machinegun, he cleared a trench of Iraqi fighters with his weapons and grabbed and fired Iraqi weapons and an Iraqi rocket-propelled grenade launcher against enemy fighters — single-handedly clearing more 200 meters of trenches of enemy fighters.

** Lance Cpl. Joseph B. Perez, a rifleman with India Company, for clearing and leading his squad in a fight to take an enemy Iraqi trench south of Baghdad on April 4, 2003. At one point, he continued to lead and direct his squad despite getting shot in the shoulder and torso by Iraqi fighters, and he silenced a machinegun bunker by firing an AT-4 rocket into it, killing four enemy fighters.

** Sgt. Jarrett A. Kraft, a squad leader with Weapon’s mortar platoon, for his actions organizing and leading three counterassaults over two hours during a battalion push through Fallujah on Dec. 23, 2004. Several times, Kraft, of Fresno, Calif., was knocked down by enemy grenades, wounding him, and the blast of a U.S. Abrams battle tank’s main gun, but continued to lead the men and help the wounded.

** Cpl. Jeremiah W. Workman, a squad leader with Weapon’s mortar platoon, for his actions in Fallujah on Dec. 23, 2004, as he provided covering fire in a heavy firefight that allowed Marines isolated in a building to move to safety. Twice, he led assaults into the building to battle insurgent fighters and rescue wounded Marines. As he provided additional covering fire, a grenade exploded by Workman, of Richwood, Ohio, sending shrapnel into his legs and arms, but the corporal continued to fire. Despite his wounds, he led a third assault into the building to help the Marines before reinforcements arrived. He’s credited with killing 24 insurgents during that battle.

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