A Republican congressman from California is urging Secretary of Defense James Mattis to consider upgrading the posthumously awarded Silver Star of Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion to the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery, the Navy Cross.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Marine Corps veteran, sent a letter to Mattis in early June asking Mattis' office to review “new material evidence” that supports upgrading the fallen Marine’s award.
In a phone call to Marine Corps Times Hunter said, Manion "was nominated in country for a Navy Cross by his chain of command. This is something that is deserving of a second look.”
“Not one living person was awarded the Medal of Honor under President Bush. Administrations have been better about award reviews since then. Given the new testimony that has been presented, this award warrants a look by the current administration," Hunter said.
Manion was originally submitted for the Navy Cross for exposing himself to enemy fire on multiple occasions and leading his men during an intense ambush while serving with a military transition team tasked with training and advising the Iraqi army in 2007. But his award was downgraded to the Silver Star.
Manion and his men were ambushed during a patrol near Fallujah, Iraq, on April 29, 2007.
“As First Lieutenant Manion’s patrol concluded a search of a suspected insurgent house, it came under precision small arms fire attack,” Manion’s award Silver Star citation reads. “With the Corpsman grievously wounded by enemy fire and the attack developing into a full-scale ambush, First Lieutenant Manion and a fellow Marine exposed themselves to the increasing fire to pull the Corpsman out of the kill zone.”
Manion was killed by a sniper during the attack.
The new evidence in support of Manion’s upgrade is a witness statement from former Marine Staff Sgt. Paul D. Petty, who claims Manion continued to fire nearly 300 rounds of ammunition from his M4 and a grenade from his M203 after being wounded.
“While Manion was firing well-aimed shots into the enemy, he was mortally wounded while conducting a magazine exchange,” the statement from Petty reads.
Duncan’s letter to Mattis says the actions of Manion that day saved the lives of every man in his platoon.
Ryan Manion, the first lieutenant’s sister and head of the Travis Manion Foundation based in Pennsylvania, told Marine Corps Times, “I do not believe Travis would care either way if his award was upgraded or not. That was type of character that Travis was though. The award gives an understanding of the situation for those that were not there. It represents his sacrifice to what he did."