Marine Who Braved RPG Fire to Save Commander Receives Navy Cross
Hope Hodge Seck
September 14, 2017
"I understand that this places me in a category of Marines that I would have never imagined to be a part of. I firmly believe that I was an ordinary Marine placed in an extraordinary situation." Eric Smith
Eric Smith, a native of Waxahachie, Texas, was presented by Maj. Gen. Paul Kennedy, head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, with the The Navy Cross. (U.S. Marine Corps/Sgt. Courtney White)
A Marine veteran who left the service as a staff sergeant had his Silver Star award upgraded to the prestigious Navy Cross in a ceremony Thursday presided over by a two-star general.
Eric Smith, a native of Waxahachie, Texas, was presented by Maj. Gen. Paul Kennedy, head of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, with the military's second-highest valor award in recognition of his heroic actions while serving in Ramadi, Iraq, in 2004.
The medal was upgraded to the Navy Cross as part of an awards review initiated by the Pentagon in early 2011 to ensure that troops serving in wars after Sept. 11, 2001, were properly recognized for their heroism.
Smith's Navy Cross is the 40th presented to a Marine since the Sept. 11 attacks, officials said.
"I'm honored and humbled to be singled out against a sea of deserving Marines," he said. "The significance of this award is not lost on me, and I will wear it with pride."