There are numerous Marines and sailors, at the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, who have prestigious awards for valor, with citations that read like the script from an action movie.
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (March 10, 2010) -- The command’s latest award recipient is no exception to that high standard of courage and sacrifice.
Maj. John A. Moder received a Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device on March 10, for his actions during a 14-hour firefight while serving as the commanding officer of C Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, II Marine Expeditionary Force, in the Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on May 30, 2008.
Moder’s company, along with the rest of the 24th MEU seized the Jugroom Fort, a Taliban stronghold estimated to have housed more than 600 enemy forces. Though previous military units had attempted to take control of the Jugroom, no one had succeeded until the 24th MEU arrived.
“This Jugroom Fort battle was one 14-hour battle that was kind of the crescendo of this whole operation,” Moder said.
The Rhode Island native led his Marines from the front during the battle. He constantly exposed himself to fire from sharp shooters and rocket propelled grenades in order to control the fires supporting his maneuvering units. He did all this while engaging determined enemy personnel with a M240 golf medium machine gun and M4 carbine assault rifle, according to his award citation.
“At one point, I saw this guy crawling in the grass, trying to sneak up on 1st platoon, that’s when I engaged him,” Moder said recalling the battle. “He blew himself up with a grenade about 15 meters away.”
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Lefebvre, the commander of MARSOC, gave a speech during the ceremony repeating the words of his son, 1st. Lt. Tom Lefebvre, who served under Moder during the battle.
“‘Dad, he stayed awake for four days and he didn’t sleep. When his company went into attack, he was with the lead fire team,’” the elder Lefebvre recalled his son saying. “He said to me ‘he is a quiet guy, and he doesn’t say a lot, but his lieutenants absolutely love him.’ Better than an award, is when somebody says something like that,” Maj. Gen. Lefebvre continued.
Moder is now the officer-in-charge of Assessment and Selection at the Marine Special Operations School. Assessment and Selection is a mentally and physically challenging evaluation that identifies Marines with the necessary attributes to complete follow-on special operations training and to conduct special operations missions.
Moder’s actions in Afghanistan are a clear indicator of his own courage under fire and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service.