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TERRE HAUTE, IND. — One young Marine keeps a necklace with two pendants with him at all times, each pendant serving as a visual reminder of two significant events.
Sgt. Joshua Moore’s necklace — which he held up during an interview in Terre Haute on Friday — consists, in part, of a bullet, “the only bullet that can’t kill you” because it is around his neck, the Tribune-Star reports. He received it upon completing the scout sniper basic course in the US Marine Corps.
The other is a grenade pin, a reminder of his heroic actions during combat operations while deployed to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom, the actions for which he recently received the Navy Cross medal, the nation’s second-highest award for valor (after the Medal of Honor).
He and other members of his unit received awards from the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during a Nov. 1 ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the presence of family, friends, dignitaries and the nation’s media.
“It honestly didn’t really sink in exactly how big of a deal it was,” Moore said, as he sat beside his wife, Carol, a lifelong Terre Haute resident.
“But (I am) very honored and very thankful that one, I had survived, and all the guys in our team had survived. That we were also all going to be recognized for our actions at the same time,” Moore said.
“So to be up there on that stage with the guys that were there with me on that day, that was the most rewarding feeling,” he said.
But before the pomp and circumstance of the awards ceremony was an experience in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on March 14, 2011.
It was a date that Moore — assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines — remembered so well.
According to his Navy Cross citation, the then-lance corporal “demonstrated audacity and selfless devotion to duty in the face of a determined enemy when his element came under attack north of Marjah.”
Calm but serious, Moore on Friday told a story not only of bravery but also of teamwork.
“While we were waiting for darkness so we can head back ... to the base, we were attacked. They initiated the attack with two hand grenades that they threw into our building, while they opened up on us with a machine gun,” Moore recalled.
“One of the hand grenades hit me in the back,” he said.
“Without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his own life, Lance Corporal Moore picked up the first grenade and threw it out of the building, where it immediately detonated,” the Navy Cross citation stated.
“He then picked up the second grenade, recognized it had malfunctioned and would not detonate, discarded it and charged out of the structure to aid the wounded,” the citation continued to read.
His later actions were also decisive and courageous.
Moore realized that “we had no security to the north” so he went outside the compound “while we were getting shot at and provided security to these guys while they were treating our wounded,” he said.
He also “immediately took action” to scout and secure a landing zone to extract wounded personnel, the citation said.
With all humility, Moore said he just did his part to help his unit succeed.
It goes back to what being a Marine is about.
“Being a Marine, an infantry marine, it really is how your actions can be most beneficial to ... your unit. How can what I’m doing right now help achieve, accomplish the mission?” Moore, who has been deployed twice since joining the Marine Corps in 2009, said.
Other members of his unit were also doing their job, treating the wounded, among other actions, he said.
“My actions were important but so were everyone else’s actions,” he said.
Other units also came to help and it was a team effort, Moore said.
Without the teamwork, “the outcome would have been drastically different,” he added.
It was all about “just doing our job and trying to get all of my buddies back home,” he said.
But back home, his wife did not know anything about the events of March 14, 2011.
“I didn’t find out about all this until basically when he got back from Afghanistan,” Carol, whose family still lives in Terre Haute, said.
She now resides with her husband in North Carolina as he continues his service.
“He doesn’t want me to worry when I am back home. His first priority is to not tell me things that will make me sit at home and worry,” Carol said.
But when she found out, she was worried.
“It’s just kind of scary to know that I could have lost my husband and not even known about it,” she said.
Carol accompanied Moore to the awards ceremony and said it was “cool to see how respected he is in the Marine Corps community.”
“It was just cool to hear the rest of the story because a lot of people focus on him throwing the live grenade but I didn’t realize he did so much more” Carol said.
“I’m just very proud to be his wife,” she said as she looked at Moore and touched his shoulder.