By Debbie Gregory.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recently visited a firebase in Iraq to award Purple Hearts to four Marines injured in a March rocket attack carried out by the Islamic State group.
“In all the years, I have not awarded anybody a Purple Heart on the ground where they received the Purple Heart,” said Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Dunford, who served as Marine Corps commandant before taking on the role of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted to show his support and get a firsthand look at what the Marines at the base are doing.
The Marines were injured in an attack that claimed the life of Marine Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin have been awarded the Purple Heart.
Cardin’s death is the second combat death since the start of Operation Inherent Resolve. The March 19th attack by Islamic State group militants occurred when a rocket attack was fired upon a coalition on a small fire base in northern Iraq. The Marines were part of the Camp Lejeune-based 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which deployed from Norfolk Naval Station as part of the Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group in October.
Dunford did not take any media with him when he presented the Purple Hearts. He said afterwards that he did not want anone to get the impression that he was looking for a “photo op.”
Marines have repelled at least one attack by ISIS militants since Cardin was killed.
“Two enemy [fighters were] killed in that operation, the rest ran away in fear,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Defense Department spokesman, said on March 21.
The ISIS rocket expert believed responsible for the March 19 attack on the base was killed in an April 3 drone strike.