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Marine scout sniper who tossed live grenade from compound to get Navy Cross

Oct. 23, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Sgt. Joshua Moore, shown training in California in March, will receive the Navy Cross during a Nov. 1 ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Sgt. Joshua Moore, shown training in California in March, will receive the Navy Cross during a Nov. 1 ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (Marine Corps)
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Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller Jr., left, commanding general of Regional Command Southwest, congratulates Sgt. Joshua Moore, a scout sniper team leader with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, on Sept. 13. Moore will be awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in Afghanistan in 2011. (Sgt. Tammy K. Hineline/Marine Corps)

A Marine scout sniper who tossed a live grenade from an Afghan compound before it exploded will receive the Navy Cross next week for his heroism, Marine officials said.

Sgt. Joshua Moore will receive the award — second only to the Medal of Honor in recognizing combat valor — during a Nov. 1 ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He is credited with a series of heroic actions on March 14, 2011, while deployed near Marjah, a former Taliban stronghold in Helmand province, where Marines encountered fierce combat in 2010 and 2011.

According to his Navy Cross citation, Moore was a lance corporal when his scout sniper element came under fire while occupying a compound north of Marjah. Two Marines were quickly wounded, and an insurgent tossed two grenades over a wall into the structure.

“Without hesitation, Lance Corporal Moore threw the closest grenade out of the compound before it exploded,” his citation says. “Realizing seconds later that the second grenade was not going to explode he charged out of the compound to aid the wounded. Though instantly taken under fire by an enemy force one hundred meters away, Lance Corporal Moore audaciously stood his ground, returning fire with his M4 rifle and M203 grenade launcher.”

Moore’s effort forced the insurgents to abandon their position, buying his team time to regroup and aid the wounded Marines, the citation says. He then assisted in scouting and securing a landing zone for a medical evacuation.

Moore told the Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, N.C., that he recalls being hit in the back with something, and then turned and saw a fellow Marine staring at a pair of hand grenades at his feet. He threw the first one out the window before it exploded, and saw that the second one had corrosion around its top.

“It’s like my brain was kind of processing everything at hyperspeed,” he told the newspaper. “It really was just a divine moment — something giving me the sense that, hey, this is not a threat to you. I knew I was in the frag radius so I just dropped it and I took cover from the first grenade.”

Moore was informed of the decision while deployed again with 2/8 last month at Camp Leatherneck, the Marine Corps’ largest base in Afghanistan. The service released photographs of him shaking hands with Maj. Gen. W. Lee Miller, the top Marine officer in Helmand province, and Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Sept. 13.

The Corps released an account of the battle in 2011. It says insurgents used both small arms and hand grenades to initiate the initial attack on scout snipers that day. One sniper sustained a gunshot wound to the abdomen, and another was wounded by fragmentation from a grenade explosion, it says.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Friesner, 2/8’s sniper platoon commander at the time, said in the 2011 news release that the two wounded Marines wouldn’t have survived if the other Marines had not responded so quickly. A third Marine, Cpl. Ritchie Elias, also sustained wounds and a broken ankle from the grenade, but his injuries were not as serious.

Moore said in the 2011 news release that Elias had an enough adrenaline running through him to assist the other wounded Marines get of the kill zone and into the compound. Elias will receive the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” device in the same ceremony in which Moore will be honored.

Also during the ceremony, Sgt. Justin Tygart will receive the Bronze Start with “V” device and and Sgt. Matthew Adams and Cpl. Gavin Eier will receive the Navy Comm with “V.” The awards will be presented by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

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