CAMP LEJEUNE, NC (CPT Nicholas Mannweiler) – Gifford, a native of Palm Bay, Fla., served as a sniper instructor at the school prior to serving as the chief of a Marine Special Operations Team. As the senior enlisted Marine in the 14-man team, Gifford was responsible for leading a select group of special operations personnel both in training and in combat.
While serving on his fourth deployment, Gifford and his Raiders were advising and assisting an Afghan special operations commando force on an operation near the village of Bala Bokan, in Afghanistan’s Badghis Province, July 29, 2012. As the force entered the village, they began taking heavy fire from a Taliban ambush, wounding several Afghans. Gifford rushed to aid them, treating their wounds and moving them to safety before leading a counterattack on the enemy. Taking concentrated fire from a specific building, Gifford killed an enemy fighter firing from a window before he climbed the building and threw a hand grenade down the chimney before he was mortally wounded. Gifford’s heroic actions turned the tide of the battle, allowing the Afghan commandos to secure the village and defeating the Taliban attack.
“We are forever indebted to the service and leadership [Gifford] gave and continues to give through all those he has touched, and those who continue to serve, with the traits and characteristics garnered from [Gifford’s] tutelage,” said Gen. John M. Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps during the presentation ceremony for Gifford’s Navy Cross.
The ceremony will feature an unveiling of a statue of Gifford and remarks by Col. Brett A. Bourne, the school’s commanding officer, as well as reflections on Gifford by former teammates. Speakers will be available for media interviews following the conclusion of the ceremony.
MARSOC is the Marine Corps service component of U.S. Special Operations Command and was activated February 24, 2006. Its mission is to train, organize, equip and deploy task-organized Marine Special Operations Forces (SOF) worldwide.