Babylon & Beyond

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IRAQ: 'At their best when things are at their worst'

January 9, 2009 |  9:41 am


For 17 days in 2005, Marines took the offensive against insurgent strongholds near the Iraqi border with Syria. The goal of Operation Steel Curtain was to end insurgent dominance in the area and allow for the establishment of an Iraqi army outpost.

On Nov. 16, 2005, Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, were assigned to clear houses in the village of New Ubadyi and were ambushed by insurgents from fortified positions. In the firefight that followed, five Marines were killed and 11 wounded; all of the insurgents were either killed or captured.

"It seems Marines are at their best when things are at their worst, and this day was no exception," said Col. Robert G. Oltman, who was the battalion commander.

On Thursday at Camp Pendleton, in recognition of their bravery, Silver Stars were awarded to three Marines and a Navy corpsman, and a Navy Cross was awarded to a Marine. One of the Silver Star awards was posthumous.

Today's Los Angeles Times has the full story.

--Tony Perry at Camp Pendleton

Photo: Left to right, award recipients former Navy corpsman Jesse Hickey, former Cpl. Javier Alvarez, Gunnery Sgt. Robert Homer and former Lance Cpl. Joshua Mooi (Navy Cross) at the ceremony Thursday. The Silver Star was also awarded posthumously to 2nd Lt. Donald R. McGlothlin. Credit: Irfan Kahn / Los Angeles Times