CAMP LEJEUNE. N.C. --
A lone Marine stood before a formation of his contemporaries as he was awarded for valor in a ceremony aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., May 2.
Gunnery Sgt. Robert L. Jernigan, a native of Gates County, N.C., received the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device from Maj. Gen. Michael G. Dana, the 2nd Marine Logistics Group commanding general.
“I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and this is the most impressive citation I’ve ever heard,” Dana commented after shaking the Marine’s hand.
While serving as a joint terminal attack controller attached to 2nd MLG (Forward) in Afghanistan last year, Jernigan’s expert control of air assets was directly responsible for quelling an ambush and undoubtedly saved countless lives. Approximately three-dozen enemy combatants armed with AK-47 assault rifles, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.1 fuel convoy Aug. 28, 2011. According to his award citation, Jernigan maneuvered his team to vantage points where they could observe enemy forces and then accurately directed devastating airstrikes against their positions.
Throughout the engagement, Jernigan’s vehicle was continuously targeted by the enemy, with rounds impacting the hull as he calmly performed his trade amid the chaos.
His actions ultimately halted the attack - a significant role for any one Marine to play considering the circumstances - yet Jernigan remained humble as he stood before family and friends with two-inches of red, white and blue-striped ribbon of hallowed meaning suspended from his chest. Though it was his moment, he recognized several other Marines in attendance for their own service and sacrifices over the course of the last deployment.
They were also awarded for valor at an earlier date.
“It’s just surreal,” said Jernigan when asked what the meaning of such an award meant to him. “I never expected anything.”