CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Two Marines with the 2nd Marine Logistics Group were awarded for their actions while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from April 2009 to October 2009, during a ceremony held aboard Camp Lejeune, May 7.
Sgt. Michael C. Leabo, a motor transportation operator and platoon sergeant with Transportation Support Company, received a Purple Heart, and 1st Lt. Tabitha J. Pinter, the company commander for TS Co., received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with a combat distinguishing device, to recognize their performance while deployed with Combat Logistics Battalion 8.
Leabo was the vehicle commander on a 7-ton truck during a resupply mission to Forward Operating Base Geronimo, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 12, when his truck was struck by an improvised explosive device. The IED resulted in a mobility kill; leaving his vehicle destroyed. But that was the least of his worries at that instant.
“My biggest concern was my platoon,” Leabo explained. “I didn’t know how big the IED was or how many Marines were injured.”
After determining none of the personnel in the convoy were injured, the Marines continued on with their mission.
During the return trip to Camp Dwyer, the convoy hit another, more powerful IED, seriously injuring Leabo.
“When the second IED hit the truck, the blast caused me to hit my head against a monitor that was next to me,” he said.
As a result of the blast, Leabo suffered a head trauma and was immediately air-transported back to Camp Dwyer where he received life-saving medical treatment.
Unfortunately, IEDs are the most prominent weapon used by insurgents in Afghanistan and are frequently encountered during convoys and patrols. During the same deployment, Pinter was also involved in an IED blast.
Pinter was awarded for actions taken after an IED struck her convoy, June 9, 2009, while they were returning to Camp Dwyer after a resupply mission to Forward Operating Base Nowzad.
“It was on the way back when the IED went off,” Pinter said. “My first reaction was to stop the convoy, secure the surrounding area and evaluate the situation.”
Pinter immediately stopped all the vehicles, ensured security was set around the convoy, accounted for her Marines to make sure there were no casualties, and accessed the damages caused by the blast.
“No Marines were injured,” she said. “Luckily the IED didn’t take any Marines’ lives, and everybody went back home safely.”
To reduce the damage and casualties caused by IEDs in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense is currently providing troops with Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, such as the new MRAP All Terrain Vehicle, which was designed to be able to better maneuver in the mountainous and more uneven terrain U.S. service members are encountering in Afghanistan.