MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The amount of thoughts that can run through a Marine’s mind in a firefight can be overwhelming. The strain put on a Marine leading others in battle can be even more intense, but being able to direct the fire and maneuver of Marines and foreign military while under enemy fire is a challenge and stress that is difficult to match. Throughout multiple engagements, which spanned five hours, Gunnery Sgt. Richard A. Jibson, Battle Staff Training Program team member, Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group, left covered positions and crossed open terrain several times under small arms and machine gun fire to provide suppressive fire and support which inspired his men.
Jibson was awarded the Navy Cross Medal during an award ceremony at Lance Corporal Torrey L. Gray Field April 22, 2014. Jibson was awarded for his actions while deployed to Afghanistan with Regimental Combat Team 6, serving as an infantry advisor to a Georgian Liaison Team.
Jibson was leading a coalition force, which consisted of Afghan, Georgian, and United States personnel, during the clearing of an Afghan village May 28, 2012. At first contact with the enemy, Jibson unhesitatingly took charge of the coalition force as the senior enlisted personnel present.
“I’m not a superhero, I was just doing my job and I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for the outstanding group of men I was with,” Jibson said. “Knowing the Marines throughout history who have been awarded the Navy Cross, it is an extreme honor to be receiving it. I just hope that I’m able to walk and fit in the shoes that those before me have filled.”
Jibson’s first two deployments were with 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion to Iraq in 2003 and 2004. In March 2005 he became an instructor for the School of Infantry East and held several billets in his time there. After being an instructor, Jibson was assigned to 2nd Tank Battalion with whom he deployed to Iraq again. His forth combat deployment was with Regimental Combat Team 6 to Afghanistan, where his actions and leadership earned him the Navy Cross Medal.
“Every unit I was with always had those leaders for me to look up to. Everything they taught me, along with the good leadership and example, gave me the tools that I have today,’ Jibson said.
Jibson took charge of the Marines and gave advice and mentorship to the Georgian and Afghan forces. He then led them through heavy, sustained fire, which came from close enemy fortified positions. Attempting to communicate between troops of three different languages became a challenge, as communication began to become more of a factor.
“Being a liaison to foreign troops, and the stresses that come with that, began to become more evident and the language barrier became more of a challenge as I had to relay important information through interpreters, which took time,” Jibson said. “But as long as we all knew what we had to do and all sides knew we were there for each other, we were getting out of there.”
The Marines with Jibson gave him confidence that they can get the job done through their performance and experience.
“Having the assets that were available, I could’ve never asked for a more professional group of men. We had never trained as a group before but everyone there knew what they had to do, we came together and I would serve with those men any day with full confidence.”