Marine honored with Bronze Star on Corps' birthday
Master Sgt. Blaine M. Jones, artillery man and fire support chief for 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, received the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device, America's fourth-highest awarded combat decoration, for service during his deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The award ceremony was held Nov. 10, the Marine Corps' 235th birthday in front of a formation of Marines from 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd MarDiv., his family and Marines from 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd MarDiv. who he worked alongside during his deployment.
"What better day to present this award than the Marine Corps Birthday," said Col. Keil Gentry, the commanding officer of 12th Marines. "Master Sergeant Jones represents a long line of heroes that have served our Marine Corps for 235 years," said Gentry.
Jones received the award for his service in connection with combat operations while serving as the fires chief and air officer for Task Force Raiders, Company B, 3rd Recon Bn., 1st MarDiv. (Forward), I MEF, in Afghanistan from November 2009 to June 2010.
On multiple occasions he exposed himself to enemy small arms, machinegun and sniper fire as he to maneuvered to better observe the enemy and accurately direct air strikes on their positions, according to his citation.
According to Gentry ‘one thing,' that he would put into perspective about Jones is that he was fulfilling an air officer's billet during his time with the "Raiders", a billet that is typically filled by Marine aviator captains.
As the acting air officer, Jones' meticulous approach to planning ensured the Raiders success in 19 combat operations including four aerial raids and the first combat insert using MV-22 Osprey aircraft in Afghanistan, according to his citation.
Jones provided tactical leadership and training on the employment of air and fire support assets at all levels of 3rd Recon Bn.
In one mission, he was requested by name and quickly stepped up to be the joint terminal attack controller in the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade command operations center during an ongoing combat operation to track a high value individual.
His actions in monitoring the insurgent for hours ultimately led to a deliberate airstrike that killed two high-level insurgents who were preparing to commit a hostile act against friendly Coalition forces. An assessment conducted by a team on the ground later showed these two insurgents possessed a large quantity of explosive material and suicide vests.
After each operation, Jones provided detailed debriefs and after-action reports, giving invaluable feedback to the company and platoon leadership and aided in correcting issues from the initial missions, according to citation.
"I didn't realize what I was getting into," said Jones. "If not for [the Raiders], I think I would have passed out.
According to Jones, the job of being the senior man was a strenuous one and would have caused him to drop from fatigue if not for the Marines alongside him sharing the load.
"The word 'hero' is something very difficult for me to bite off on. My grandfather fought on Okinawa back in 1945 during World War II … and I remember when I was a kid, I said to him, ‘Hey you fought in Okinawa. You're a hero,' and he said, ‘No the ones who didn't come back are the heroes.'"
He added, "I honestly feel there was nothing I did that was special. We lost four Marines out there. For the Marines I was there with to take the losses they did, and keep going like they did, is an example of their character. They are by far the best Marines that I have served with on deployment."
Article by Cpl. Kentavist P. Brackin, Marine Corps Bases Japan