Last Friday, two U.S. Marines, Captain Ademola Fabayo and Staff Sgt. Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, were awarded the Navy Cross, America's second-highest award for combat valor, for their actions in Afghanistan in 2009.
Fabayo, a lieutenant at the time and commander of the mission, was on foot when the attack started. He and the troops he was with fired back, but they were trapped for about two hours. When he called for close-air support, he was told that the fighting was too close to the village and civilians would be at risk. So Fabayo organized a team of Afghan soldiers to attempt to break out of the ambush and head back to the rear and relative safety. He got them to cover, treated their wounds. But four of his Marines were missing.
Rodriguez-Chavez, driving an armored Humvee as part the column's security element, called Fabayo and begged to drive up and help, Fabayo said no. He wanted no more Marines in the kill zone
Eventually, Rodriguez-Chavez did drive into the ambush three times, evacuating two dozen Afghan troops and Marines.
"As the only vehicle moving anywhere, particularly into the fight, their Humvee became the most obvious target on the battlefield and it was hit again and again. But with no other way to get to their friends available, they kept going, returning fire entire time," Mabus said.
By now Fabayo was with Rodriguez-Chavez in the Humvee as he drove into the kill zone a fourth time under heavy fire. With Fabayo in the gun turret, the most exposed part of the truck, they found the four missing Marines. Unfortunately, they all died fighting off the ambush. Nonetheless, Fabayo, Rodriguez-Chavez and several other Marines and soldiers risked their lives to get the four fallen Marines off the battlefield.
Congratulations and well-earned, Marines!