U.S. Navy Awards Silver Star to Sailor Caught in Islamic State Firefight for 10 Hours

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The U.S. Navy has awarded the Silver Star to a sailor who staved off Islamic State (ISIS) attacks during a ten-hour firefight to protect the lives of his fellows, reports say.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas was awarded the medal for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy” during a ceremony at Naval Amphibious Bas in Coronado, California, Fox News reported.

“Today we recognize the heroic actions of individuals and the legacy of their teammates,” Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of Naval Operations, said during the ceremony. “This recognition is well deserved, and it’s an acknowledgement [sic] of bravery, training, and dedication to team and country.”

In October of last year, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 (EODMU 3), to which Thomas was assigned, was caught in an ambush set by ISIS forces. One vehicle was struck by an IED and a sailor killed.

Despite taking rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire, Seaman Thomas continued clearing the area of explosive devices so medics and reinforcements could safely enter the area.

Thomas also led the convoy out of the minefield through the corridor he had cleared while under fire, saving a number of American lives.

“Jeff knowingly exposed himself to hazards in order to protect the lives of his teammates and brothers in arms, and secure a MEDEVAC for his wounded teammate,” said the commanding officer of EODMU 3, Cmdr. Geoff Townsend. “His actions that day saved the lives of his teammates and exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to his country.”

Several other soldiers were recognized at the ceremony. The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with Combat Distinguishing Device) was awarded to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Senior Chief Jon Hamm, and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” was bestowed upon Lt. Morgan Dahl, according to the U.S. Navy.

The Navy also noted, “U.S. Navy EOD enables special operations and conventional forces access to denied areas. Navy EOD technicians and Navy divers are instrumental in clearing the way for further combat operations. They render safe various types of ordnance, including conventional, improvised, chemical, biological and nuclear.”

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