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A Rifleman First - Godspeed Marine Sergeant Benjamin Edinger

I receive more than a few of these applications for awards for heroism.  This one stands out for many, many reasons, but mainly because Sergeant Edinger embodies one of the Marine Corps' traditions - "Every Marine a Rifleman".   This award was approved.  First you'll read the statement by his commanding officer (basically, an affadavit).  Then, you can read the citation.

Although a computer technician by trade, Sergeant Edinger was recruited to come to 2d platoon as a radio operator after his noteworthy service with 2d Force Reconnaissance Company, Task Force Tarawa during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He immediately made an impact on his team by mastering the difficult communication systems required of his job and applying this mastery during a shortened unit training phase and MEU Pre-Deployment Training Phase.  His mastery of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force SIDS (MSIDS) data system allowed his team to provide Reconnaissance and Surveillance to 2d Bn, 5th Special Forces Group during their pre-deployment training for OIF II, thus marking a new relationship between these two units.

Upon deployment to Iraq for OIF II, Sergeant Edinger was designated a heavy machine gunner for his team due to the expertise he displayed on the weapon system during pre-deployment training.  In 11 engagements with the enemy, Sergeant Edinger demonstrated his acumen with the machine gun by providing accurate, suppressive fires when warranted.  His personal discipline was on display most in this capacity, as he never failed to cover his sectors of fire and provide security for his team.  During a combined direct action raid with Hillah SWAT in the town of Lutafiyah, Northern Babil province, on 11 October, Sergeant Edinger's team was attacked with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) along Alternate Supply Route (ASR) Jackson, and then immediately engaged with small arms fire from an adjacent palm grove.  Sergeant Edinger provided accurate suppressive fires on the enemy, allowing the platoon corpsman to render medical attention to a wounded Marine, and the rest of the platoon to sweep through in the direction of the enemy.  As a result of these suppressive fires, the platoon was able to close with and destroy the trigger man and an enemy observer and thus disable the threat and exfiltrate the contact area.

During a combined direct action raid with Hillah SWAT in Haswah, Northern Babil province, Sergeant Edinger's team was again the subject of a complex enemy attack.  While providing security for the raid force, Sergeant Edinger's stack was attacked with an IED mixed with homemade napalm, and small arms fire from two men in a truck in the area.  Sergeant Edinger along with his team returned fire, destroying the truck and the two terrorists inside.  His immediate action, and the actions of the Marines around him, allowed the platoon to continue their raid unabated.  During the same raid, Sergeant Edinger again showed significant physical courage, when his position was probed by a white Bongo truck forced into the area by the local terrorists.  A red Opal followed the truck as it charged through Bravo Stack's trigger lines, and gained speed even after warned.  Suspecting the truck to be a Vehicle Borne IED, Sergeant Edinger and his team engaged the truck, halting it's advance.  Due in large parts to his diligence, seven enemy detainees were captured.

On 14 November, during a mission to extract from an Observation Post (OP), Sergeant Edinger's team was again engaged by an IED ambush.  Although mortally wounded, Sergeant Edinger continued to man his gun, fighting for air, until he was relieved of it in order to receive medical attention.  Sergeant Edinger was an inspiration to those around him with his physical courage, buoyant fighting spirit, and "never quit" attitude.  He will be sorely missed by his platoon, and the Reconnaissance Brotherhood.

EYEWITNESS STATEMENTS

Above summary of action reflects eyewitness account of Capt. T.A. Douglas

The above statement is true to the best of my recollection. Sgt. Edinger was an outstanding young Marine who's toughness and physical courage will be sorely missed. GySgt. BR Reid

Recommended Citation:

Heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as Radio Operator and Machine Gunner, Force Reconnaissance Platoon, Maritime Special Purpose Force, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 1st Marine Division in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II from 15 July to 14 November 2004.  During this period, Sergeant Edinger demonstrated exceptional personal courage over the course of 61 combat missions, which included 41 direct action precision raids.  He aquitted himself with coolness and clarity under fire in each engagement.  On 11 October, during a combined direct action raid with Hillah SWAT in Lutifiyah located in the Northern Babil Province, Sergeant Edinger's team was attacked with an improvised explosive device along alternate supply route Jackson, and then immediately engaged with small arms fire from an adjacent palm grove.  He provided accurate suppressive fires on the enemy, allowing the wounded to receive medical care, and a sweep conducted which fatally wounded the triggerman and observer.  This is just one example of his overall performance throughout this period as he served as an example for seniors and subordinates to emulate from. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty Sergeant Edinger reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Combat distinguishing device is authorized.

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