Bronze Star




‘Greater love hath
no man than this,
that a man lay down
his life for his friends.’

John 15:13

Second Lieutenant J. P. Blecksmith USMC, while receiving imminent danger pay, is recommended for the Bronze Star with a Combat 'V' for recognition of superior performance while serving as 3d Platoon Commander, Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines from 28 September to 11 November 2004 during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II-2B and Operation PHANTOM FURY. Superior professional achievement during this period is as follows:

After conducting a successful relief in place with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, Company I conducted securityoperations at Tactical Control Point-1, Al Fallujah, Iraq. Lieutenant Blecksmith commanded a unique defensive position bounded by 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's battle space to his immediate front and flanks. With sensitive political impact and scrutiny from higher, Lieutenant Blecksmith remained vigilant and operated within the restrictive rules of engagement - identifying legitimate threats and influencing the insurgents with limited and tightly controlled firepower. His leadership resulted in over 100 insurgents killed.

Between 29 September and 4 November 2004 his platoon routinely received direct fire, indirect mortar fire, and rocket propelled grenade fire inside Tactical Control Point-1. On one specific occasion, Tactical Control Point-1 received a coordinated attack from three directions. Lt Blecksmith's tactical discipline ensured the Marines were alert and ready for this attack. As a vehicle pulled up 300 meters behind Tactical Control Point-1 to fire a Rocket Propelled Grenade-7, his platoon immediately engaged with squad automatic weapons killing the driver and mortally wounding the gunner while under sniper fire from the front left, and Rocket Propelled Grenade fire from the direct front and small arms fire from the right flank. Lieutenant Blecksmith coordinated with the Battalion, the rest of the Company, a section of tanks and his twelve fighting bunkers to reduce the threat. He conducted Type II close air support bringing in a 500-pound bomb within danger close to his position without friendly casualties.

During the initial assault on Al Fallujah as part of the first combat elements inside the city, Lieutenant Blecksmith led his reinforced mechanized platoon through the breach and into a night attack of the Jolan District of Al Fallujah. His platoon was responsible for seizing Battalion Objective Three and isolating the company's right flank from an exposed western approach. Their attack enabled the rest of the company to advance on Regimental Objective Charlie subsequently allowing Regimental Combat Team to attack and penetrate into the heart of Al Fallujah.
During the following two days India Company repeatedly came under direct fire from insurgent forces inside the city. During this time, Lieutenant Blecksmith led his platoon from the front with the skill and confidence of a seasoned combat veteran. His platoon eliminated over a dozen insurgent positions through a series of combined arms attacks.

On the 11th of November the company moved east into a new battle space containing known insurgent positions. Third platoon was the main effort for this attack. They anchored the company's right flank--linking with Kilo Company as the Battalion pressed three companies abreast to the south. Within thirty minutes of commencing the attack, his platoon came under fire from an insurgent position inside a residence. Two of his men were shot in the face and legs. Maintaining a commanding presence of mind, he orchestrated an urgent surgical and a priority medical evacuation while organizing his squads to reduce the insurgent position. Once the threat was reduced, he continued his attack in zone to finish clearing the enemy.
Shortly after commencing the attack south, Lieutenant Blecksmith found himself and his platoon once again under enemy fire. Without hesitation he occupied a rooftop where he had a commanding view of his forces and the insurgent positions. He was fatally wounded as he courageously exposed himself to insurgent small arms fire to direct the M-203 grenadiers onto their targets.
Second Lieutenant Blecksmith is a natural combat leader. His tactical knowledge and leadership impacted each of his Marines. His sustained superior performance greatly contributed to the overall success of the unit in gaining the first foothold in Al Fallujah, killing over a dozen enemy personnel. He is enthusiastically recommended for the Bronze Star with a Combat 'V'.

Recommended Citation:
For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as 3d Platoon Commander, Company I, 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, 1st Marine Division in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II from 28 September to 11 November 2004. During operations in Al Fallujah, Iraq, Second Lieutenant Blecksmith demonstrated tactical proficiency and natural leadership as he employed his platoon against a determined and criminal insurgent force. During defensive operations he coordinated tanks, artillery, air support and small arms against insurgent forces that enjoyed relative freedom of movement on all sides of his position. During one specific well-coordinated attack, he repelled insurgents without suffering casualties, despite the extremely close proximity of the fighting. During the assault on Al Fallujah, he seized Battalion Objective Three during the main effort attack, allowing the Regimental Combat Team to penetrate south. On 11 November, 3d Platoon came under fire while clearing in zone in the northeast corner of the Jolan District. As his platoon suffered two casualties, he orchestrated a medical evacuation under fire while employing his forces to reduce the threat. As he continued his attack south to clear in zone, again his platoon came under fire and without hesitating he charged atop a building to obtain a commanding view of the urban battlefield. Directing his squads from the front and exposed, he came under fire and was mortally wounded. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and exceptional dedication to duty, Second Lieutenant Blecksmith reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


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