Marine earns Navy Cross for actions in Afghanistan


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice Affairs Info/Archive News Pages/2010/100108-cross.html

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa (January 8, 2010) -- On June 26, 2008, a team of U.S. Marines, sailors and Afghan National Army soldiers set out on a mission to locate a high value target in the mountains of Afghanistan.

The team traveled across rocky terrain, utilizing its shadows for cover and concealment.

Gunnery Sgt. John S. Mosser, platoon sergeant with Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, thought back to that fateful day.

"Everything looked good," he said. At the time, Mosser was a staff sergeant and team leader.

"We then reached this really tough valley, and as we were pushing through, we saw some vehicles, so we checked them out," Mosser explained.

These vehicles, one in the center of the road and the other to the east of the team, were the start of a rough situation. As they finished securing the area and moved forward, the team received small arms fire from the west.

"We were getting rounds from high up in the mountains," Mosser said. "It was hard to tell where the fire was coming from."

Ignoring the rounds, coming at him, Mosser fired toward the enemy positions. He also directed team members deeper into the draw to find cover behind several boulders. Mosser entered the kill zone several times, where enemy fire was strong, to help direct his gunners who were having trouble seeing the enemy.

The unseen enemy appeared well-trained, making it difficult for the Marines to get to safety.

"They started to fire on our support, trying to separate the teams," Mosser recalled. "They were putting down really accurate fire."

Two Marines were shot in the leg and fell in the kill zone. Mosser and Maj. Dan Strelkauskas, then a captain and team leader, ignored the hailstorm of rounds to rescue the two Marines.

"Maj. Strelkauskas grabbed one guy, and I grabbed the other, and we started supporting them," Mosser said.

Mosser ordered no one else to enter the kill zone. He had seen enough for one day.

Mosser began directing security element vehicles and personnel to position themselves to suppress enemy fighting positions. The team maintained the position for an hour until close air support arrived on the scene.

The Joint Terminal Air Controller was almost 500 meters away and unable to observe the area, so Mosser moved from cover into the kill zone again to identify the enemy position and relay the information to the primary controller.

A casualty evacuation team arrived but found difficulty in getting to the wounded Marines and sailors. Still pinned down, Mosser realized some of the casualties needed immediate medical assistance or they would not make it.

Then, the air support was ordered to return to base or risk running out of fuel.

"His command called him over the radio and told them they would return to base," Mosser said of the support element's lead man.

Mosser quickly devised a plan. Putting himself once again in front of the fire to receive more accurate coordinates, he ordered air support to drop bombs to distract the enemy so the team could make it to a casualty control point.

For this, Mosser was awarded a Navy Cross - one of the nation's highest awards for military valor, second only to the Medal of Honor - during a ceremony at Camp Schwab Dec. 18.

Mosser's fighting spirit can be traced back through generations of service members, most of whom he said served during World War II and Vietnam.

"I always knew I was going to be a Marine," said the Dripping Springs, Texas, native.

Although many consider him a hero, Mosser insisted he did nothing special during that day.

"All I did for this is what I had to do," he said. "This isn't uncommon. This is the stuff some guys do every day. Everybody did what they were supposed to do."


Gunnery Sgt. John S. Mosser talks to visitors during a ceremony at Recon Point in Camp Schwab where he was awarded the Navy Cross. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Cordero).


Gunnery Sgt. John S. Mosser received the Navy Cross for actions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony at Recon Point in Camp Schwab. Mosser is a platoon sergeant with Company C, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. (Photo by Lance Cpl. Jeffrey Cordero).
That's some hard charging right there...

You know if he got the Navy Cross and he's breathing, he probably merited an MoH, but these days you've got to die to get it. That's wrong...

Semper Fi, Gunny - job well done!