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Corporal to receive posthumous Navy Cross

May. 31, 2007 - 06:46PM   |   Last Updated: May. 31, 2007 - 06:46PM  |  
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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — In his final hours spent battling insurgents in Iraq, Cpl. Jason Clairday defied the enemy fighters and their AK47 fire to lead members of his infantry squad in a close-quarters urban fight to protect their fallen and wounded friends.

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — In his final hours spent battling insurgents in Iraq, http://www.militarycity.com/valor/555969.html">Cpl. Jason Clairday defied the enemy fighters and their AK47 fire to lead members of his infantry squad in a close-quarters urban fight to protect their fallen and wounded friends.

Before the day was over, Clairday, a 21-year-old fire team leader from Salem, Ark., was killed, but not before several injured buddies were evacuated and the insurgent-held position in Fallujah's Askari district was destroyed.

For his actions, "decisive leadership" and "unlimited courage" that day — Dec. 12, 2004 — Clairday will receive the Navy Cross, the nation's second-highest military award for combat valor, next Monday, Marine Corps officials said Thursday.

Col. Larry Nicholson, 5th Marines commander, will present the medal to Clairday's family during a morning ceremony that will be held at the base's San Mateo camp, home to the regiment and 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, nicknamed the "Darkhorse" battalion.

Clairday, a member of 3/5's Kilo Company, will be the sixth member of the battalion to receive the Navy Cross for actions in Iraq.

On the day of the fateful firefight, Clairday and his squad were doing a security sweep of the Askari neighborhood when insurgent fighters attacked members of 3rd Platoon. Clairday "immediately repositioned his men and jumped a four-foot gap three stories up onto the roof of the enemy stronghold where a mortally wounded Marine lay, isolated by the enemy," the award citation states.

Clairday threw several fragmentation grenades to lead the attack into the house, but "he was immediately hit with AK47 rifle fire in both legs and fell into the kill zone."

But the young Marine wasn't about to stop.

"Under heavy enemy fire, he continued to aggressively engage the enemy while extracting himself from the doorway. Without regard for his own wounds, he rejoined the squad making entry and entered the house a second time," the citation states. "Once inside, he took control of the stack and repositioned himself in the front while suppressing the enemy using fragmentation grenades and his rifle. Again, without concern for his own safety, Corporal Clairday led the Marines into the room where he single-handedly attacked the insurgents and received mortal wounds.

"His courageous actions enabled reinforcing assault elements to destroy the insurgent position."

Clairday later died of his wounds, officials said, and he was one of five members of 3/5 who were killed in the fighting in Fallujah that day.

After Clairday's death, the pastor at his hometown church told a local newspaper about the young Marine's devotion to others. "He exhibited all the attributes of goodness," the Rev. John Hodges told The Associated Press. "He asked me, ‘What do I do to send my money home to the church for tithes?' He was always thoughtful about those things. He thought more of others and their needs than he did of himself."

Clairday married his wife, Sarah, just weeks before his 2004 deployment.

The citation

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the NAVY CROSS posthumously to:

Corporal Jason S. Clairday

United States Marine Corps

CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism as Fire Team Leader, 1st Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division, during Operation Iraqi Freedom on 12 December 2004. While conducting a security sweep in the Askari District of al Fallujah, a platoon-sized insurgent force engaged 3rd Platoon. Corporal Clairday immediately repositioned his men and jumped a four foot gap three stories up onto the roof of the enemy stronghold where a mortally wounded Marine lay, isolated by the enemy. After throwing several fragmentation grenades, Corporal Clairday fiercely led the attack into the house. He was immediately hit with AK-47 rifle fire in both legs and fell into the kill zone. Under heavy enemy fire, he continued to aggressively engage the enemy while extracting himself from the doorway. Without regard for his own wounds, he rejoined the squad making entry and entered the house a second time. Once inside, he took control of the stack and repositioned himself in the front while suppressing the enemy using fragmentation grenades and his rifle. Again, without concern for his own safety, Corporal Clairday led the Marines into the room where he single-handedly attacked the insurgents and received mortal wounds. His courageous actions enabled reinforcing assault elements to destroy the insurgent position. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Corporal Clairday reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

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