California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter appeared on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday and said that the valor of some Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans was ignored by former president George W. Bush’s administration and “Pentagon bureaucrats,” particularly in the case of Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion.
Hunter wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense James Mattis on June 1 requesting that his office upgrade Manion from a posthumous Silver Star award to a Navy Cross in light of “new material evidence.” The Pentagon had not responded as of Wednesday morning, said “Fox & Friends” host Brian Kilmeade.
“We have new information that shows that [Manion] stayed in the front of his humvee, even while he was running out of ammunition, and kept firing at the enemy so that his Marines and corpsmen would be safe,” Hunter, a former Marine officer, said on “Fox & Friends.” “He did not pull back when he could. He was running out of ammo, and he knew it. He stayed there and died. That’s new information. The Navy demands new information if they want to reopen the cases.”
Manion received the third highest award for valor for his actions, but Hunter says Manion deserves to be upgraded to the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor. Hunter, who has pursued upgraded awards for other members of the military, sees Manion’s story as part of a larger problem. (RELATED: Katie Arrington Is Back To Pounding The Campaign Trail Wearing Red, White And Blue Leg Cast)
“Hopefully [the Navy] will take a look at this and realize they downgraded a lot of awards from Pentagon bureaucrats and lawyers back here that were already approved on the battlefield,” Hunter said. “It needs to stop and we need to revisit those awards.”
Mattis endorsed a 2014 book about Manion, “Brothers Forever,” which was written by journalist Tom Sileo and Manion’s father, former Marine Col. Tom Manion, according to the Travis Manion Foundation website.
“For those who might question America’s character, this account of two remarkable young men will restore confidence,” Mattis said, according to the foundation.
Hunter detailed Manion’s “brave and heroic actions” even after the Marine was fatally wounded in Iraq in 2007 in the letter to Mattis.
Hunter emphasized that Manion continued to fire more than 200 rounds from his rifle and grenade launcher after being fatally wounded. This information was disclosed in a witness statement from Staff Sgt. Paul D. Petty that was dated the same day as the ambush. Those details from Petty’s statement were not included in Manion’s original award recommendation, said Manion’s sister Ryan Manion, quoted in an article from Military.com Sunday.
Manion’s patrol searched a suspected insurgent’s home while operating in Fallujah on April 29, 2007. The situation quickly turned into an ambush, according to the Hall of Valor Project. Manion and a fellow Marine exposed themselves to enemy fire in order to rescue a wounded member of their patrol. (RELATED: ‘Do Not Celebrate Victimhood’: Mattis Speaks At Merchant Marines Commencement)
Manion then led a counter attack with an assault rifle and grenade launcher when another Marine was wounded. Manion recovered the wounded Marine while five insurgents fired. The patrol was fired upon from three sides after an improvised explosive device kept Iraqi Army reinforcements from helping, according to the Hall of Valor Project.
While moving to draw fire away from the wounded and obtain a better position to fire on the insurgents, Manion was wounded by a sniper but continued to fire.
“[Manion’s] efforts that day are in the highest standards and traditions of our Marine Corps,” Hunter wrote in the letter. “His distinguished display of extraordinary heroism while engaged in action against a foreign enemy, along with this new material evidence, removes any doubt that our Marines in the field were correct; the appropriate medal for these actions is the Navy Cross.”
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