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Corpsman Awarded Navy Cross

Story Number: NNS040812-05
Release Date: 8/12/2004 3:54:00 PM
By Raymond L. Applewhite, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Public Affairs and Photographer's Mate 1st Class (AW) Eric Schwab, Navy News Service

NORTH CAROLINA (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Gordon R. England presented the Navy Cross to Hospitalman Luis E. Fonseca Jr. in a ceremony held at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 11.

Fonseca, a 23-year-old corpsman, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 23, 2003, while serving with Amphibious Assault Vehicle Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, Task Force Tarawa, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

The Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy's second highest decoration, is awarded for extraordinary heroism while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States. The act must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk.

During his Company’s assault and seizure of the Saddam Canal Bridge, five Marines were wounded when their amphibious assault vehicle was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Fonseca, in the face of small arms, machine gun and intense rocket-propelled grenade fire, evacuated the Marines from the burning vehicle and established a casualty collection unit inside his own medical evacuation vehicle. There, he stabilized two Marines with lower limb amputations and administered morphine. After his vehicle was rendered immobile by enemy fire and again, under intense gunfire, Fonseca organized litter teams and directed the movement of four of the Marines, while personally carrying one wounded Marine over open ground to another vehicle.

“I feel privileged to be here to recognize Hospitalman Fonseca for his extraordinary valor and courage,” England said. “Corpsmen have a long tradition of service to the United States Marine Corps. You make all of us proud, and let me personally thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty. On behalf of the President of the United States and all of America, I thank you.”

Fonseca’s colleagues, who were also in attendance, expressed their pride in his actions.

“He is a very motivated corpsman and deserving of this award,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Erin Asidao. “I was overjoyed when I heard. I think many corpsmen go unrecognized. I think it’s good for the Navy and good for the Hospital Corps.”

“I was doing my job,” said Fonseca. “I wish I could have done more.”

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