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Two Special Operations Marines Earn Navy Cross

Folding the flag at a Marine funeral.

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Two Marines from 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion will be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for actions while deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

The awards will be received by the families of Staff Sgt. Sky R. Mote and Capt. Matthew P. Manoukian respectively during a ceremony at 1st MSOB Headquarters, Saturday, Jan. 18, at 3 p.m.

Both Mote, of El Dorado, Calif., and Manoukian, from Los Altos Hills, Calif., were assigned to Marine Special Operations Team 8133, Marine Special Operations Company C, 1st Marines Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when they came under intense enemy fire from an Afghan uniformed police officer attacking from inside the perimeter of their tactical operations center.

Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technician courageously exposed himself to a hail of gunfire drawing attention away from others and halting the shooter's pursuit of his comrades. In his final act of bravery, he boldly remained in the open and engaged the shooter, no less than five meters in front of him. He courageously pressed the assault on the enemy until he received further wounds and fell mortally wounded. Mote's heroic and selfless actions halted the enemy assault on his teammates enabling their escape, which ultimately forced the enemy to withdraw. Mote's selfless act safeguarded his comrades from being injured or killed.

Manoukian, the team commander, was working in the operations center when the initial attack commenced with AK-47 fire ripping through walls and partitions of the operations room. He immediately exposed himself to further enemy fire and commanded his Marines to maneuver to safety as he engaged the enemy. With one of the two Marines now critically wounded, Manoukian courageously drew heavy fire upon himself, disrupting the enemy pursuit of his comrades and providing them the security needed to get to safety, ultimately saving their lives. Outgunned, Manoukian continued to engage the enemy until he fell mortally wounded to the shooter's overwhelming fire.

Major Gen. Mark A. Clark, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, will present the awards. The Navy Cross is the second highest valor award, second to the Medal of Honor and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded. Mote and Manoukian will become the third and fourth Marines in MARSOC's seven year history to be awarded the Navy Cross, and are the 15th and 16th Marines to receive this prestigious award for actions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Media will have limited access during the ceremony but is invited to attend. Media interested in attending the ceremony or seeking additional information should contact the I MEF Public Affairs Office via email:imefpublicaffairs@usmc.mil or via phone: (760) 763-7047 no later than 1 p.m. Friday, Jan 17.

Credentialed media are expected to meet at the Las Pulgas gate no later than 1:30 p.m. Saturday. They will be met by a uniformed public affairs representative and escorted to the site of the ceremony.

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