MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Lieutenant Col. Mark Dietz, the executive officer of Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal June 17, 2011, for meritorious actions in combat during his tour in Afghanistan last year.
The commanding general of the 1st Marine Division, Maj. Gen. Michael R. Regner, presented Dietz with his award citation during a small, private ceremony at MCTOG.
“I’m honored that you guys asked me to come up to do this,” Regner said. “It’s a big deal.”
Dietz helped ensure the rapid transition from clearing actions to holding efforts in Marjah, Afghanistan, during the highly successful Operation Moshtarak, as stated in his citation.
Dietz was also recognized for immediately assuming command of 2nd battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, after their battalion commander was wounded when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device. Dietz maintained the tempo of counterinsurgency operations in Garmsir District.
“Battalion commanders getting wounded or injured doesn’t happen very often. Sergeant Maj. Bill Heyob, [the battalion’s sergeant major], made it as painless of transition as possible, so the credit goes to him. It was as smooth as it could be given an unfortunate situation,” Dietz said. “Lt. Col. McDonough is a personal friend, and the professionalism with which the Marines adapted to the change mid-deployment and continued on with the mission is a tribute to a great battalion.”
For Lt. Col. Kevin Harris, the Marine who replaced Dietz as the executive officer for Regimental Combat Team 7, Dietz’s leadership was a key factor in the success of the mission at hand.
“He absolutely is deserving of the award,” Harris said. “It’s a tough task to go to a battalion half way through the deployment to become their battalion commander. He had big shoes to fill because Lt. Col. McDonough was a very effective battalion commander, and he was hard to replace. Dietz did it, and he did it in a fantastic way.”
“He kept the battalion operating,” McDonough said. “It’s a tough task for any infantry officer to keep a battalion running. He never lost focus, and his guys kept taking the fight to the enemy. That is a direct reflection of his leadership.”
Dietz credited the unit’s success to his fellow Marines and colleagues who assisted him during the tour.
“One guy gets a little bit of recognition and a decoration that is really representative of the efforts of a large number of folks,” Dietz said. “It’s much more about teamwork, and group of great Marines.”