Chief Petty Officer Justin A. Wilson, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, was awarded the Navy Cross aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, Nov. 25, 2014.
The Navy Cross is the second highest valor award after the Medal of Honor and must be approved by the secretary of the Navy before being awarded.
Chief Petty Officer Justin A. Wilson, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, was awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom during a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., Nov. 25, 2014. The Navy Cross is the second highest valor award, second to the Medal of Honor, and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Joshua Murray)
Wilson, who was born in Beloit, Kansas, was awarded the Navy Cross for his extraordinary actions on Sept. 28, 2011, while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While on a patrol in Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device detonated, injuring Wilson and his teammates. Without hesitation or concern for his own injuries, Wilson moved his fallen teammates out of the kill zone before letting anyone attend to his wounds.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Joseph Osterman, the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command presented the Navy Cross to Wilson. Osterman also posthumously awarded Bronze Star Medals to Staff Sgts. Christopher Diaz and Nicholas Sprovtsoff, who gave their lives to protect their fellow teammates in the same incident in which Wilson was injured.
Wilson, who was the first Sailor in MARSOC's eight-year history to be awarded the Navy Cross, spoke highly of his team and the Marines who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
“These men I served with were the embodiment of honor, courage and commitment,” Wilson said. “Some people tell me that I'm lucky to be alive, but I think I was really lucky to have served with these great men.”
Throughout Wilson's time in the Navy, he has deployed multiple times in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Osterman spoke of the dedication and self-sacrifice Wilson showed when his team member, who was near an Afghan Local Police checkpoint, was hit by an IED explosion.
“This is a man who literally ran through an environment that was so littered with IEDs that it took a deliberate task force to get rid of them afterwards,” said Osterman. “He ran through all of the IEDs with no regard to his own safety, so he could find and save his team members who were in trouble.”
While he was moving casualties from the initial blast site, a second device exploded, severely injuring Wilson, who ignored his wounds and continued rescuing other injured comrades.
During the ceremony, Wilson spoke directly to the families who were affected by this tragic accident.
“I really want to thank all of you. These men were some of the most outstanding people I had ever met and that's all because of you guys,” said Wilson. “You instilled them with the best characteristics and I just want you to know how thankful I am to have known them.”
By U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Joshua Murray
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