MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Corporal Joshua M. McKee, a rifleman with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, received the Bronze Star medal with combat distinguishing device during an award ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Dec. 27.
“Receiving the Bronze Star is more than an honor,” said McKee, 23, and a native of Lake Placid, Fla. “But when it’s all said and done, I was just doing my job.”
The bronze star medal is an individual military award of the U.S armed forces. It is awarded for acts of heroism, merit or meritorious service in a combat zone. When awarded for acts of heroism, the medal is awarded with a combat distinguishing device. The Bronze Star is the fourth highest combat decoration and the 10th highest U.S. military award.
McKee received the award for his efforts during an insurgent attack while standing guard at forward operating base Hansen, during 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines’ previous deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from May 2012 to Nov. 2012. While taking heavy fire, McKee took cover and was able to call for help.
“The day I was injured, I was on post at the entry-control point (ECP) as sergeant of the guard,” explained McKee. “A man dressed as an Afghan police rode up on a motorcycle, and when we started to walk toward him, he just started shooting at us.”
“We interacted with the local police all the time, but when rounds started to fly by me, that’s when I noticed the Afghans had circled around us,” said McKee. “Even though I was shot in my upper thigh, I managed to call for help and we took them down.”
Among those present to congratulate McKee on his bravery, heroism and courage was 1st Lt. Jonathon Harris, whom also pinned the medal on McKee. During the deployment, Harris served as McKee’s platoon commander and was present at the base during the time of the attack, and holds McKee in the highest regards.
“The fact that McKee was bleeding everywhere, but remained vigilant the entire time ensuring that no other threats existed, was an act of a true hero,” said Harris. “McKee’s actions that day hands down prevented the loss of several Marines’ and coalition forces’ lives; he’s a hero and someone I look up to 100 percent.”
Today, nearly a year after the deployment, McKee is still dealing with some nerve damage but says despite it all, he wouldn’t have changed his actions that day.
“At the time, you don’t really think about the exact situation you’re in,” explained McKee. “It’s one of those outer body moments, and the things closest to you definitely come to mind, but other than that you don’t even think, you just act.”