The U.S. Navy awarded the Silver Star medal to a Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician for his actions during a 10-hour firefight with ISIS in October, 2016.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Jeffrey Thomas was awarded the medal during a ceremony on Sept. 20, at Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3 aboard Naval Amphibious Base Coronado, according to a press release.
“Today we recognize the heroic actions of individuals and the legacy of their teammates. This recognition is well deserved, and it’s an acknowledgment of bravery, training, and dedication to team and country,” Vice Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Bill Moran, said at the ceremony.
On October 20 and October 21, Thomas’ unit was engaged in a 10-hour firefight with ISIS after trying to conduct combined clearance operations.
“Throughout the battle, he continuously maneuvered through heavy small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar fire in order to engage the enemy and clear paths for his teammates,” the press release read.
The unit’s lead vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device, killing one sailor.
Despite facing enemy mortar and small arms fire, Thomas continued to sweep the area for explosive devices, enabling medics and reinforcements to get through to the vehicle so they could provide care to those hit by the IED.
Thomas guided the other vehicles out of the minefield so they could reach the medical evacuation zone.
“No one that was present on the 20th of October knew better than Jeff the dangers he was facing,” said Cmdr. Geoff Townsend, commanding officer of EODMU 3. “After the EOD supervisor, a friend and mentor, was mortally wounded Jeff knowingly exposed himself to hazards in order to protect the lives of his teammates and brothers in arms, and secure a MEDEVAC for his wounded teammate. His actions that day saved the lives of his teammates and exceeded all measures of selflessness and devotion to his country.”
The press release did not identify the sailor killed in the IED explosion, however Chief Petty Officer Jason C. Finan was killed October 20 by a roadside bomb near Bashiqa, Iraq. Finan was attached to the same unit as Thomas.
The Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with Combat Distinguishing Device) was awarded to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Senior Chief Jon Hamm and the Bronze Star Medal with Combat “V” was awarded to Lt. Morgan Dahl at the ceremony.