CAMP PENDLETON, CA – Four Marines were awarded the military’s fourth highest combat award for combat operations while serving with 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion between February 2009 and October 2011.
Maj. Gen. Paul E. Lefebvre, the commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, presented Capt. John B. Dickens, Sgt. Maj. Edward Gonzalez, Staff Sergeant Steven E. Goodnight, and retired Master Sgt. Stephen F. Krueger with the Bronze Star at Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 12.
Krueger and Goodnight received the combat distinguishing “V” device, for valor, with their medal.
Lefebvre referred to the Marines as his “all-star” team. He thanked the four award recipients for their service and congratulated them on their achievements before and after the ceremony.
“At times, they stepped up when we needed them to the most,” Lefebvre said. “They contributed to the reputation that MARSOC has today.”
Dickens, a company commander with 1st MSOB, was assigned as the director for Special Operations Task Force-West, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, from March 2011 to October 2011. He immediately solved communication infrastructure problems and implemented a plan to increase efficiency.
“I went, did my job and came back,” said Dickens, 32, from Newport News, Va. “I became the only Marine on an all-Army staff. “The award is from the collective efforts of the soldiers I led.”
Gonzalez, the sergeant major of 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, was assigned as the company first sergeant for 1st MSOB Companies D and C in support of OEF from February 2009 to April 2011. He greatly contributed to the operational success and stability achieved in Farah, Helmand and Nimroz provinces through his supervision and leadership.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have served with such great Marines and sailors,” said Gonzalez, 38, from Chicago. “The unit is paving the way for special operations.”
Goodnight, an assistant element leader with 1st MSOB, served as an element member of 1st MSOB, Company G, in support of OEF in 2010. He led Afghan commandos during a 10-hour firefight against insurgents in Badghis province, Afghanistan. He led his team of commandos forward under heavy enemy fire and rooted out an entrenched enemy in a large compound.
“I was humbled to be with the team I was working with in Afghanistan,” said Goodnight, 26, from Fredericksburg, Va.
Krueger was assigned as the operations chief for 1st MSOB, Company C in support of OEF from August 2010 to April 2011. He led a combined patrol to establish a fire support position when they came under attack from heavy machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire. He conducted critical medical care and coordinated the medical evacuation of the company’s senior medic, who suffered a gunshot would to the shoulder.
Throughout the deployment, Krueger’s leadership and bold actions significantly contributed to lasting stability effects achieved in the Upper Gereshk Valley, according to the award’s citation.
“I feel very humble to have served with all of the Marines who have been in my presence,” said Krueger, 42, from West Palm Beach, Fla. “I got the award because of my Marines in the company. Most of them are still deployed in Afghanistan.”
The Bronze Star recipients addressed the Marines and sailors in attendance after receiving their awards. They lined up to congratulate the four Marines with a handshake and an occasional hug.