Story by Maj. Hector Infante, Marine Forces, Special Operations Command
Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Jones, a critical skills operator with 2d Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, will be awarded the Navy Cross for his heroic actions while deployed to Iraq on 8 March 2020.
The award will be presented to Jones during a ceremony at the Marine Forces Special Operations Command headquarters aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC., August 26, at 3 p.m.
Jones, a native of Olathe, KS, was an Element Leader accompanying Iraqi security forces in an operation to clear enemy positions in the mountains of Northern Iraq, when multiple barricaded enemies unleashed a heavy volume of fire on an adjacent element, immediately wounding an allied special operator and subsequently wounding two Marine Raiders.
Jones seized the initiative and organized a counterattack. Under sustained, accurate enemy fire at close range, he maneuvered to a coalition casualty, suppressing the enemy 20 meters away with his rifle and grenades while helping to move the casualty to a covered position and subsequent medical evacuation. Turning his attention to two fallen teammates in a steep ravine, Jones again exposed himself to the enemy caves, firing his rifle and throwing grenades to drive the enemy back. With rounds impacting all around him, Jones continued to engage the enemy at close range until he was driven back by a heavy volume of accurate enemy fire. Nearly five hours into the firefight, he led a third and final attack on the enemy positions, again exposing himself to engage the enemy, before he was struck in the leg by enemy small arms fire. Refusing medical treatment and pain medication, he continued to fight until he was medically evacuated. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and unconquerable spirit, Staff Sgt. Jones reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Nicholas J. Jones, seen here in a Talons Reach Foundation YouTube video, will receive the Navy Cross during a ceremony Aug. 26, 2021, Marine Forces Special Operations Command. (Video courtesy of www.talonsreachfoundation.org)
The Navy Cross is the second highest valor award, second to the Medal of Honor and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded. Jones will become the eighth servicemember in MARSOC’s 15-year history to be awarded the Navy Cross as a result of his extraordinary heroic actions taken during Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.