Arlington National Cemetery will name a street after Marine Raider Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on June 29, 2012.
The street will be dedicated in a ceremony later this year to commemorate the opening of the Millennium Project, according to Kerry Meeker, a spokeswoman for Arlington National Cemetery.
Gifford was awarded the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery after leading a charge on an all-terrain vehicle over open terrain to rescue wounded Afghan commandos pinned down under heavy fire.
“Realizing the Afghan force was in jeopardy, Gunnery Sergeant Gifford gathered extra ammunition and accompanied by a fellow Marine, crossed the same open terrain under fire, to reinforce the belabored Afghans," Gifford’s Navy Cross citation reads. "He rallied the Commandos and led an assault on the enemy. After eliminating an insurgent firing from a window, he climbed atop a building from which insurgents were engaging the Commandos, and dropped a grenade down the chimney.”
The fellow Raider accompanying Gifford on the ATV assault was Gunnery Sgt. Daniel J. Price, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his actions that day that helped turn the tide of the battle.
The Raiders also named one of their training buildings Gifford Hall after the fallen Raider during a ceremony in 2016.
The expansion project at the hallowed cemetery is part of an effort to add nearly 30,000 burial spaces.
Arlington is fast losing the capacity to bury America’s military veterans and service members. Several years ago, the historic cemetery kicked off a nearly $80 million project to add land and burial spaces.
However, the expansion may not be enough for future Iraq and Afghanistan veterans to be buried at the cemetery.
Arlington is looking at another expansion to add more burial spaces and is considering more stringent eligibility criteria for burial.
The latest version of the annual defense legislation directs the Secretary of the Army to “prescribe revised criteria for interment at Arlington National Cemetery” by Sept. 30, 2019, according to the legislation.
Another street will be named after Ida Lewis of the U.S. Lighthouse Service — a predecessor to the U.S. Coast Guard — during the dedication ceremony later this year. Lewis rescued many people as a lighthouse keeper.
Shawn Snow is the senior reporter for Marine Corps Times and a Marine Corps veteran.