MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – -- Standing in front of a formation at the 2nd Marine Logistics Group amphitheatre, Gunnery Sgt. David L. Sutherland received the highest award of his 13-year career in the company of family, friends and fellow Marines March 23.
The Vernon, Conn., native distinguished himself as the Force Protection Chief and Security Element Team Chief, 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) from Jan. 2005 to Oct. 2005. Sutherland led the Marines in more than 85 convoy security missions, covering the entire Al-Anbar Province, Iraq, resulting in the safe transportation of millions of dollars worth of vital communication assets, tactical rolling stock and escorted vehicles without major incident or injury.
“My Marines and I were prepared before we went out there – we learned weapons training, and cross trained in different (Marine Occupational Specialties) since we have no combat related MOSs,” Sutherland said. “We loved what we were doing out there and it wasn’t about the numbers for me. We worked really close and saw each others strength and weaknesses. We’re still a tight-knit group to this day.”
Despite the many ambushes that Sutherland and his team faced, the Marines of 8th Comm. were still able to accomplish the mission and come home safely.
According to his award citation, Sutherland’s superior performance of duty while assigned to his unit was a testament to his true sense of mission accomplishment, genuine concern for the welfare of the Marines in his charge and unwavering loyalty to country and Corps.
“A lot of credit goes to my Marines, but there is one person who I thought of when I was receiving this award – Staff Sgt. Kendall H. Ivy II,” Sutherland said. “He was killed in Iraq last May and he sat me down before I deployed and gave me this piece of advice, ‘Being nervous is a good thing because you want to go out there and do a good job, I know you are going to be okay, so calm down.’ Finding someone who has experience can help you prepare for what’s out there.”
The Bronze Star Medal is an individual decoration and the fourth highest award within the Department of Defense for bravery, heroism, and meritorious service.