Tuesday night at the Democratic debate, Jim Webb said the enemy that he is most proud of making is the “enemy soldier that threw the grenade that wounded me, but he’s not around right now to talk to.”
Webb, a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, has received the Navy Cross, Silver Star, Bronze Star, and the Purple Heart.
According to his Navy Cross citation, on July 10, 1969, Webb’s platoon discovered a well-camouflaged bunker complex which appeared to be unoccupied while on a search and destroy mission.
Webb went in to clear the first bunker when three enemy soldiers armed with hand grenades jumped out. “Reacting instantly,” the citation reads, “he grabbed the closest man and, brandishing his .45 caliber pistol at the others, apprehended all three of the soldiers.”
Accompanied by one of his men, Webb then approached the second bunker when an enemy soldier threw a grenade at him, which detonated in close proximity. Then, “First Lieutenant Webb detonated a claymore mine in the bunker aperture,” the citation says, “accounting for two enemy casualties and disclosing the entrance to a tunnel.”
Upon searching the tunnel, Webb discovered enemy equipment and “numerous documents containing valuable intelligence data.”
When he reached a third bunker, another enemy threw yet another grenade at him. Seeing that the grenade landed dangerously close to one of his men, Webb fired his weapon at the enemy, pushed the Marine away from the grenade, and shielded him from the explosion with his own body.
Although Webb sustained fragmentation wounds from the explosion, he managed to throw a grenade into the bunker which destroyed it.
The Navy Cross is the second highest award a Marine can receive for meritorious service in combat.