Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command (MARSOC) will honor the late Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford by rededicating the schoolhouse at Marine Special Operations School (MSOS) in his name during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, July 27, 2106, according to a MARSOC press release.
Gifford, from Palm Bay, Florida, received the Navy Cross for actions in Afghanistan. He had formerly been the chief instructor of the MSOS Advanced Sniper Course there between 2006 and 2009. Assigned as the senior enlisted leader of a 14-man Marine Special Operations Team (MSOT) from Company H, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion, he and his team deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. It was Gifford’s fourth deployment.
His citation for the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for valor and the highest from within the Department of the Navy, reads in part:
On 29 July 2012, while advising Afghan Commandos conducting an operation into an insurgent stronghold village, Gunnery Sergeant Gifford observed three Commandos become casualties when the force received small arms fire shortly after insertion. Without hesitation he mounted an All-Terrain Vehicle and crossed 800 meters of exposed ground, performed first aid and, with the help of another Marine, moved the causalities several hundred meters to a protected landing zone for medical evacuation. The other Commandos were pinned down under heavy enemy fire and sustained more casualties. Realizing the Afghan force was in jeopardy, Gunnery Sergeant Gifford gathered extra ammunition and accompanied by a fellow Marine, crossed the same open terrain under fire, to reinforce the belabored Afghans. He rallied the Commandos and led an assault on the enemy. After eliminating an insurgent firing from a window, he climbed atop a building from which insurgents were engaging the Commandos, and dropped a grenade down the chimney. He continued to attack until he fell, mortally wounded, but his actions proved decisive in breaking the insurgent defense, and allowing the Commandos to secure the village. By his decisive actions, bold initiative, and complete dedication to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Gifford reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
“We are forever indebted to the service and leadership [Gifford] gave and continues to give through all those he has touched, and those who continue to serve, with the traits and characteristics garnered from [Gifford’s] tutelage,” said Gen. John M. Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps during the presentation ceremony for Gifford’s Navy Cross.
During the July 27 ceremony plans are for a statue of Gifford will be unveiled. MSOS Commander Col. Brett A. Bourne will deliver remarks, as will former teammates of Gifford.