Soldiers from the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force fire FN Minimi light machine guns (top) while training and swapping challenge coins (center) with U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, California. Iron Fist 2014 is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units, and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anna K. Albrecht, 7 FEB 2014.)
Marines with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, fire the M136 AT4 rocket launcher June 7, 2015, at Rodriguez Live Fire Complex, Republic of Korea, during Korean Marine Exchange Program 15-19.
SOLDIER STORIES: Celebrating the life of a Viking Raider.
The battlefield cross for fallen Raiders was displayed at the Celebration of Life ceremony remembering retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sergeant Eden M. Pearl deployed with Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, to Herat Province, Afghanistan, in 2009. His identification tags will be added to those of other fallen Raiders and displayed at U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command headquarters building aboard Stone Bay, N.C.
(Combat images are courtesy photos dated MAY 2009. Other photos by Sergeant Donovan Lee, 19 FEB 2016. Article by Sergeant Lia Gamero, 19 FEB 2016.)
During a Celebration of Life ceremony, family, friends and fellow Raiders gathered to honor the life and legacy of retired Master Sgt. Eden M. Pearl, at the Base Theater aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Feb. 19, 2016. Master Sgt. Pearl succumbed to his wounds on Dec. 20, 2015, more than six years after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device while deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan in 2009.
“He was one of those guys the Marines tell stories about in the Marine Corps, so I couldn’t wait to meet (him)” said Phillip Noblin, who met Pearl in 2002, when Pearl was his team leader at 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “Just off the stories, I had built up this picture of this battle-ax swinging Viking of a beast of a man.”
By 2002, Pearl had already built himself a reputation as a force to be reckoned with in the reconnaissance community. He had deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, completed Amphibious Reconnaissance School, Scout Sniper School, and the Rigid-hull Inflatable Boat Coxswain’s Course.
“He was a very consummate professional, and commanded respect everywhere he went,” said Noblin, who described Pearl as a leader who always took the time to teach and train younger Marines. “(On his team) you always wanted to make sure you did the right thing because Eden was your team leader and you didn’t want to let him down.”
Pearl completed four more deployments with II MEF, in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom I and Iraqi Freedom II. It was shortly before his fifth deployment that Pearl was introduced to his wife, Alicia, a U.S. Navy corpsman stationed in Virginia. After a long-distance relationship, the two received orders to deploy with the same unit, but two months from deployment, Alicia found out she was expecting.
“He had a plan, to be together for some time, engaged for some time,” said Alicia, “but we both knew we were right for each other and we wanted to be together, so he was just so excited when he found out.”
The couple married days before his deployment and their daughter was born just two weeks before his return in 2005.
“(She) was his joy,” said Don Hoemann, long-time friend of Pearl. “He had this carrier that he bragged about continuously and did so much in-depth research on, and he’d carry her absolutely everywhere. He’d be up to his knees in muck, and she’d be on his back, hiking with him.”
In April 2005, Pearl then received orders to 2nd Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch, as a Dynamic Assault/Entry Instructor.
“(When I arrived) Eden was kind of in charge over there, which was funny because on paper there was probably a (gunnery sergeant) over him,” said Noblin, founder of Brothers in Arms Foundation. “But he had that about him, you could be in a room with majors and captains, but if Eden was talking they were listening. He was the guy who had been there and knew all the skills, and at the time, that was with only 10 years in.”
Pearl was with the Special Missions Branch in 2006 when the unit was reassigned and re-designated at Marine Special Operations School (MSOS), U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. At MSOS, Pearl was assigned as Lead Instructor and was integral in the development of the Individual Training Course (ITC).
An explosive ordinance disposal technician with 3rd Marine Raider Support Battalion, who met Pearl in 2006 described Pearl as a very intense individual.
“His reputation as a recon Marine was already legendary with all of us, so in a way it was hard not to be in some kind of ‘awe’ when you first met the guy,” said the EOD tech. In 2008, he was assigned to Marine Special Operations Team 8211, Fox Company, 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, with Pearl as his team chief. “Eden was (the team’s) anchor, our go-to guy with anything,” said the EOD tech. “We all would have followed him anywhere because we knew without a doubt that he would do the same for any of us.”
In 2009, MSOT 8211 deployed to Herat Province, Afghanistan. While on a routine convoy, Pearl’s team was ambushed and an IED was detonated directly under his vehicle. Two service members were ejected from the vehicle and survived, three others, including Pearl, were caught inside. Pearl was the only service member from inside the vehicle to survive.
“I don’t pray often, but that night I prayed it wasn’t one of our vehicles, and more specifically not his,” said the EOD tech. “As you can imagine, the entire team was caught pretty off guard to that kind of a blow; having that anchor, brother, leader and friend taken from you.”
Pearl suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to 97 percent of his body. He was medically evacuated from country and only days later to Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he underwent multiple surgeries and skin grafts. After a couple of months, Pearl had a severe stroke that put him into a temporary vegetative state, but after 16 months he was transferred to a facility in Florida, that catered to his cognitive care needs.
In 2013, the Brothers in Arms Foundation, together with the Gary Sinise Foundation, helped build a home in San Antonio that was accessible to care for Pearl in a home setting.
“I don’t think most people would have survived those initial injuries to begin with and the fact that he made it out of (Brook Army Medical Center) after 16 months is amazing, and the fact that he was even able to come home and spend more time with us here, is kind of miraculous,” said Alicia. “He truly was an incredible man, father and husband.”
Pearl’s wounds and recovery not only led to the development of multiple medicines but also several procedures that will help future burn victims. His survival was the leading factor for the Brothers in Arms foundation, which continues to support wounded and fallen special operations Marines. Alicia and Hoemann attribute his survival to his ceaseless warrior spirit. “(Eden) was the epitome of a fighter, he was not going to give up,” said Hoemann. “Even with family and work it wasn’t an option to give up and not give 110 percent. He fought every day … for what he thought was best for his Marines and his family.”
Pearl was retired in September 2014, where he continued to live in San Antonio with his family, until his passing on Dec. 20, 2015. He is survived by his wife Alicia, daughter Avery, and a community of Raiders with an example to live up to.
“I only wish that more guys coming up through MARSOC could have been influenced by him,” said the EOD tech. “(Eden) was a full package deal that could do it all. I will never forget the moments that I had with him, to know him, and have the honor to work beside him.”
SOLDIER STORIES: An officer and a gentleman, of the highest order.
[L] Sgt. Maj. Ronald L. Green congratulates Maj. Robb McDonald after the ceremony honoring McDonald for his actions while deployed to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.
[R] Maj. McDonald is congratulated by his wife Jennifer after the ceremony.
[Bottom] McDonald received the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest combat valor award, for his role in repelling an enemy attack inside Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. McDonald was serving as the executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, III Marine Aircraft Wing. According to the award citation, on Sept. 14, 2012, 15 insurgents infiltrated Camp Bastion and attacked the coalition forces stationed there. McDonald took charge after the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Christopher Raible, was mortally wounded. He risked his life to lead Marines away from a building that could have become a death trap had the troops remained inside. He later shot and killed one attacker and directed two helicopter attacks that killed several other insurgents.
(Photos by Corporal Orrin Farmer, article by Corporal Scott Reel, 9 DEC 2013.)
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Maj. Robb McDonald, air officer with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, received the Silver Star aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Dec. 9, for taking immediate action against the enemy while deployed to Afghanistan. Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, pinned the nation’s third highest award on McDonald who in 2012, was the executive officer of Marine Attack Squadron 211, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Forward.
“Murphy’s Law is alive and well wherever you go,” Toolan said. “That’s the great thing about being a United States Marine, is you adjust and overcome.”
After the enemy fatally wounded McDonald’s commanding officer on the night of Sept. 14, 2012 aboard Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, he took control of Marines immediately. “There was a lot more going on than what was read in that citation,” McDonald said. “It was a collaborative effort of everybody that was out there, and I’m being awarded for that effort.”
While under attack, McDonald borrowed a rifle, engaged the enemy, and coordinated two helicopter strikes that ended the attack. “For those of you that aren’t aware of the fact that every Marine is a basic rifleman, those guys proved it in spades on that particular day,” Toolan said.
After mentioning the men he fought alongside during the attack, McDonald addressed his wife and the battle she dealt with simultaneously. While fighting opposing forces, McDonald’s son was undergoing a major surgery as an infant. Jennifer McDonald, four months pregnant at the time, received news of the attack and had to pray for both her son and her husband.
“After sixteen hours, and after everyone in the squadron called, I called and let her know I was alive,” McDonald said. “I just want to recognize my wife, because I love her, and I’m really proud of her for that.”
Two Marines were killed during the attack, but many Marines were saved due to the efforts of McDonald and the Marines he commanded.
Sgt. Michael Currier, a scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, prepares to fire his M-40A5 on a fixed target roughly 800 meters from his position. This will determine his weapons true battle sight zero. I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch conducted a training event for scouts from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb 12.
An instructor from SOTG special missions branch observes a target after a live shoot. A pane of glass was used to simulate shooting through a windshield. I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch conducted a training event for scouts from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb 12.
Marines with Reconnaissance Platoon, 1st Radio Battalion, I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, scout out the beach during an amphibious training evolution aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 4, 2015.
Sgt. Michael Currier, a scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaisance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, tracks the shot adjustments for his .50 caliber rifle at a range of 1,150 meters. I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group, Special MIssions Branch conducted a training event for scouts from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb12.
Sgt. Michael Currier, a scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, prepares his M-40A5 to be properly sighted for an expected distance of 800 meters. I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations Training Group, Special Missions Branch conducted a training event for scouts from 1st Reconnaissance Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb 12.
Sgt. Michael Currier, a scout with Company A, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, makes adjustments to the scope of his M-40A5 as he prepares to engage a fixed target. I Marine Expeditionary Force, Special Operations training Group, Special Missions Branch conducted a training event for scouts from 1st Reconnaisance Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb 12.
USMC Corporal William ‘Kyle’ Carpenter’s Medal of Honor ceremony scheduled for 19 JUN.
Lance Cpls. Kyle Carpenter (left) and Nicholas Eufrazio are pictured in Marjah, Afghanistan during their 2010 deployment.
Summary of Action: Lance Corporal William Kyle Carpenter is enthusiastically recommended for the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry at the risk of his life while serving as a squad automatic rifleman, Company F, 2d Battalion, 9th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 1, I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) for actions against enemy forces on 21 November 2010 in Marjah district, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Lance Corporal Carpenter’s squad was tasked with establishing Patrol Base Dakota in a small village in the Karez-e Saydi area of Marjah on 19 November 2010. Traveling by foot, Lance Corporal Carpenter’s squad was accompanied by a team of engineers, an interpreter, and Afghan National Army personnel when they set out to establish Patrol Base Dakota.
On the morning of 20 November 2010, the squad was attacked by small-arms fire, sniper fire, grenades, and rockets while providing perimeter security and filling sandbags to fortify their positions at Patrol Base Dakota. During this time, Lance Corporal Carpenter was occupying Post 2 which was located on the top of an Afghan storage shed made of mud, straw and small timbers in the southwest corner of the compound when it was struck by recoilless rifle fire. Lance Corporal Carpenter received no injuries during this incident, but two of his fellow Marines were evacuated from wounds received during the attack. Due to the damages sustained to the roof of Post 2, Lance Corporal Carpenter moved within the storage shed located below Post 2 requiring him to utilize an opening in the southeast corner of the wall for observation. The use of the opening had severely reduced the squad’s capability to observe the enemy forces’ movement outside of the patrol base to the south due to its close proximity to the ground.
On the morning of 21 November 2010, Lance Corporal Carpenter and Lance Corporal Nicholas Eufrazio were tasked with providing security for Patrol Base Dakota from an observation post identified as Post 1. Post 1 was located in the northeastern corner of the patrol base on the roof of the patrol’s Command Operations Center. It had limited cover and concealment and was built up with the use of sandbags three to four high in a circular design. While on post, Lance Corporal Carpenter was manning a M240B and, together with Lance Corporal Eufrazio, was assigned to observe the north, northwest, and northeast sectors of Patrol Base Dakota.
At approximately 0900, Lance Corporal Eufrazio and Lance Corporal Carpenter received sporadic small-arms fire on their position causing them to lower their profile by lying on their backs in order to gain concealment while trying to obtain the locations of enemy positions. Unable to obtain the position of the enemy due to the thick vegetation and structures that surrounded them, Lance Corporal Carpenter’s squad leader loaned him his M4 service rifle in order to maintain a lower profile while scanning for enemy forces.
At approximately 1000, Patrol Base Dakota was attacked again by enemy forces through the use of sporadic small arms fire. While attempting to locate their positions, enemy forces had maneuvered in close through the use of the walls of the compound across the street to the east. Once in position, three grenades were thrown over the east compound wall in consecutive order. The first grenade landed in the center of the compound and rolled toward the west entry point of the Patrol Base prior to detonation, injuring one Afghan National Army soldier. The second grenade landed near Post 2, without detonation. The final grenade landed in close proximity to him and Lance Corporal Eufrazio on the rooftop observation post.
Realizing the danger that he and Lance Corporal Eufrazio were in, Lance Corporal Carpenter positioned himself between the grenade and his fellow Marine in an attempt to shield Lance Corporal Eufrazio from its blast. Due to Lance Corporal Carpenter’s actions, the majority of the grenade blast was deflected down rather than up causing a cone shaped hole to be blown down through the ceiling of the command operations center. The blast sent debris directly onto the platoon’s corpsman that was lying directly below the observation post where Lance Corporal Eufrazio and Lance Corporal Carpenter were posted. Although Lance Corporal Eufrazio received a shrapnel injury to the head from the grenade, Lance Corporal Carpenter’s body absorbed a majority of the resulting explosion.
Lance Corporal Carpenter was severely wounded and immediately evacuated due to a depressed skull fracture requiring brain surgery, multiple facial fractures, a third of his lower jaw missing, a collapsed right lung, and multiple fragment injuries to both of his upper and lower extremities.
Lance Corporal Carpenter’s extraordinary demonstration of bravery, decisiveness, and loyalty to his fellow Marine embody the Marine Corps’ values of honor, courage and commitment. His total disregard for his own personal safety distinguishes his conduct above and beyond the call of duty in the face of certain death. Due to Lance Corporal Carpenter’s fearless devotion to duty and heroic actions, he is strongly recommended for the Medal of Honor.
A soldier with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force performs a combined company attack with U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, during Exercise Iron Fist 2014 aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 9, 2014. Iron Fist 2014 is an amphibious exercise that brings together Marines and sailors from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, other I Marine Expeditionary Force units, and soldiers from the JGSDF, to promote military interoperability and hone individual and small-unit skills through challenging, complex and realistic training. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Anna K. Albrecht/Released)
Marines with Battery I, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, fire an M777 Howitzer¬ during the opening day of live-fire operations for Steel Knight at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, on Dec. 10, 2015. The tough, realistic training is intended to develop combat skills necessary to operate as the ground combat element of the I Marine Expeditionary Force.