CAMP PENDLETON, CA (GySgt. Robert Storm) – Staff Sergeant Sky Mote and Capt. Matthew Manoukian were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the highest decoration that can be bestowed by the Department of the Navy and second highest decoration for valor, during an award ceremony at, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion headquarters, Jan. 18.
“Staff Sergeant Mote could have exited the structure to safety. He instead grabbed his M4 rifle and entered the operations room, courageously exposing himself to a hail of gunfire,” cited the award.
Manoukian’s award cited “Located in the far corner for the room, Capt. Manoukian dew his pistol and, in the face of near certain death, engaged the attacker while commanding his Marines to maneuver to safety.”
Maj. Gen. Mark A. Clark, commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command, presented the Navy Cross to Mote’s and Manoukian’s family after speaking of them during the ceremony.
“The bravery of Matt, Ryan and Sky was a continuation of the brave choices they made in the beginning, to choose a harder road fraught with peril, in order to have a chance at victory,” Clark said.
Both Mote, of El Dorado, Calif., and Manoukian, from Los Altos Hills, Calif., were assigned to Marine Special Operations Team 8133, Marine Special Operations Company C, 1st Marines Special Operations Battalion, Marine Special Operations Regiment, U.S Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when they came under intense enemy fire from a rogue Afghan local policeman attacking from inside the perimeter of their tactical operations center.
Mote and Manoukian became the third and fourth Marines in MARSOC’s seven year history to receive this prestigious award, as a result of their extraordinary heroic actions taken during OEF.
“The Manoukian family is deeply honored and humbled to accept the Navy Cross on behalf of our dearly beloved son and brother, Capt. Matthew Patrick Manoukian. Our Matthew’s courage and dedication inspires us on a daily basis to help others, to cherish our freedom, and to try to make a positive difference in the world,” said Socrates Manoukian and Patricia Bamattre-Manoukian, Capt. Manoukian’s father and mother.
Mote, in his final act of bravery, boldly engaged the gunman, now less than five meters in front of him, until falling mortally wounded. Mote’s heroic actions and selfless actions enabled his fellow Marines to get to safety and survive the attack.
During the same attack, Manoukian, the team leader, was working in the operations center when the initial attack commenced with AK-47 fire ripping through plywood walls and partitions of the operations room. Manoukian courageously drew heavy fire upon himself, disrupting the enemy pursuit of his comrades and providing them the security needed to get to safety. Manoukian continued to engage the enemy until he fell mortally wounded.
“The actions of Sky and Matt are the essence of what drives us daily in this command. These two men truly believed in their mission, their unit, this country and ultimately each other. I have the honor to watch every Marine and Sailor of this battalion operate with the same passion and hunger daily because they too believe in the mission and one another. We will always be inspired by the actions of our fallen brothers and we will strive to operate at a level that honors them; it is just who we are. ”said Lt. Col. John Lynch, commanding officer, 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion.
The Navy Cross is given for great gallantry and valor. “Staff Sgt. Mote’s and Capt. Manoukian’s actions were truly and extraordinarily heroic, and I’m proud that their actions are honored here today,” concluded Clark.