Six Marines from a Camp Pendleton-based special operations battalion received medals Thursday for bravery during a prolonged fighfight in Afghanistan in 2012.
Gunnery Sgt. Brian Jacklin, 32, a native of Los Angeles, received the Navy Cross for "bold initiative and complete dedication to duty." The Navy Cross is the second-highest decoration for combat heroism to the Medal of Honor.
Receiving the Bronze Star were: Gunnery Sgt. William Simpson IV, Staff Sgt. Christopher Buckminster, Staff Sgt. Hafeez Hussein, Sgt. William Hall, and Sgt. David Harris. The five displayed "courage and gallantry."
All were part of the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion assigned to the Taliban stronghold of Helmand province.
The unit was assisting the Army in clearing a village in the Upper Gereshk Valley when Taliban fighters attacked with superior numbers and firepower, according to the Marine Corps.
With other Marines wounded, Jacklin took command, led a counter-attack and helped his team move through open terrain to establish a landing zone for a U.S. helicopter. Jacklin remained in the open, hurling grenades at the enemy.
When his unit was relieved by another special operations unit, Jacklin stayed behind to provide intelligence and additional firepower.
"Nothing is more awe-inspiring than to look on the faces of fellow operators surrounded by death [and see] the casual smile of confidence as they acknowledge that 'things will be what they will be. If this is how we die, let's do it right and honor our legacy,'" Jacklin told a gathering of Marines and guests at the award ceremony at Camp Pendleton.
Jacklin was on his second deployment to Afghanistan, after three to Iraq.