Gifford was killed during an ambush in Afghanistan's Badghis province in 2012 — but not before his heroic actions on the battlefield turned the tide of the fight. On July 29, 2012, the 34-year-old team chief with 2nd Marine Raider Battalion was on a morning patrol near the town of Bala Bokan, when three of the Afghan commandos he was advising were hit by small-arms fire.
Gifford immediately jumped onto an all-terrain vehicle, according to his citation, and braved incoming fire as he rode nearly 900 yards to aid the wounded Afghans. He and another Raider were able to move them to a landing zone so they could be evacuated for care. Gifford then crossed back over the same open terrain to help the rest of the Afghan commandos who were fighting back against the insurgents.
Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan Gifford died in Afghanistan in 2012.
Photo Credit: MARSOC
Gunnery Sgt. Daniel Price was also killed in the battle. Price was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroic actions that day.
Gifford became a Raider in 2006, just after MARSOC was activated. A former reconnaissance Marine, Gifford had deployed to Afghanistan twice and once to Iraq.
He is survived by his wife Lesa and their four sons.
Gifford joined the Marine Corps in 1996 and was honorably discharged in 2001, but he rejoined in 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom.
He was assigned to MARSOC shortly after its activation in 2006 and served as chief instructor at the Marine Special Operations School's Advanced Sniper Course, according to MARSOC.
The Marine Special Operations School trains and educates personnel "in order to meet MARSOC's requirement to provide capable personnel to conduct special operations," according to the school's website.
A statue of Gifford will be unveiled at the Camp Lejeune ceremony July 27, and speakers will include Col. Brett A. Bourne, the school's commanding officer, and Gifford's former teammates.
Charlsy Panzino covers veterans education, employment and transition issues, as well as travel, entertainment and fitness. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlsy is a Reporter and Engagement Manager for Military Times. Email her at email@example.com.