On Wednesday, a U.S. Army Green Beret who died fending off a Jordanian soldier in a November 2016 attack was awarded the Silver Star, the U.S. military’s third-highest honor for valor in combat.
Staff Sgt. James Moriarty was killed on Nov. 4, 2016 when he and three other Special Forces Green Berets of the 5th Special Forces Group were attacked by a Jordanian soldier as they attempted to enter King Faisal Air Base. For a still unknown reason, the Jordanian soldier attacked the Green Berets, who were in Jordan as part of a mission to train Syrian fighters on behalf of the CIA.
The Jordanian soldier, since identified as Sgt. Marik al-Tuwayaha, pinned down Moriarty and the other Green Berets as they tried to reenter the Jordanian military base. Armed with an M-16 rifle, the Jordanian soldier fired on the group of Green Berets and charged at them as they took cover behind concrete barricades.
Footage of the attack released by Jordan showed Moriarty and fellow Green Berets taking cover as the al-Tuwayaha fired on them. Moriarty could be seen waving at the Jordanian soldier to get him to stop shooting, to no avail.
Al-Tuwayaha could be seen checking the vehicles the Green Berets had driven up to the base in before charging at the barricades where the soldiers took cover. As al-Tuwayaha charged, Moriarty returned fire with his own pistol drawing the Jordanian soldier’s attention while another Green Beret fired jumped out from his cover and fired, wounding al-Tuwayaha and stopping the attack.
Moriarty’s father, Jim Moriarty told Army Times, “When that asshole comes around the back of that truck with the M-16 blazing, my son stands up in full view and takes him on. He was one of the most extraordinary human beings I’ve ever known, and I mourn him every day.”
Moriarty was fatally wounded in the exchange of gunfire. Two other Green Berets, Staff Sgt. Matthew Lewellen and Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe
On Wednesday, the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) tweeted, “Fallen Green Beret James F. Moriarty will be posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal today, on his birthday, for his gallantry in which his actions were directly responsible for the survival of another Green Beret. Moriarty’s family will accept the medal.”
The medal was reportedly awarded to Moriarty’s family at a ceremony in Houston on Wednesday.
The elder Moriarty told Army Times that the move to award his son the Silver Star was led by his former commander, now-Brig. Gen. Kevin Leahy, and actions taken in recent months by former acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller.
In July of 2017, al-Tuwayaha was sentenced to life in prison with hard labor for the deadly 2016 attack.