It was two days before Christmas, Dec. 24, 2004, and the Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines were battling their way through the streets of Fallujah as part of a mission code-named Operation Phantom Fury.
Then-Cpl. Workman and his squad were removing weapons and rubble from the streets left behind from an earlier battle when they heard gunfire down the street – an instant indication that trouble was nearby.
Workman and his squad ran down the street toward a two-story house, where a large number of insurgents had pinned down some Marines. Workman poked his head inside the enemy-infested building and saw Marines on the ground level trying to communicate with the trapped men upstairs. Insurgents were firing heavily upon those below, making communications and movement nearly impossible.
Charging into the house first, Workman ran up the stairs, dodging bullets and firing at enemies as he went. His actions allowed those Marines on the ground floor to quickly exit the house. When he realized none of his squad members were able to follow in the attack, Workman ran back down the stairs and rejoined the team. They regrouped and Workman led a second charge up the stairs; this time, the team was able to follow.
They started clearing the second level, room by room, killing insurgents as they went. Workman alternated between his rifle and grenades, eliminating numerous enemy fighters. Running low on ammunition, the team headed back down the stairs to stock up when an insurgent launched a grenade at the team. The blast went off, embedding shrapnel in Workman's leg.
Despite being wounded, Workman gathered his team a third time for a final assault strike. Remaining insurgents started firing upon the group from the second floor, but Workman led his team through the ambush to clear the house and retrieve all trapped and injured Marines.
Workman is credited with eliminating more than 20 enemy fighters during the battle. For his actions, Workman received the Navy Cross on May 12, 2006.
Staff Sergeant Workman's military awards include the Purple Heart, Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Video of Jeremiah Workman's heroic story in his own words