CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq -- The Corp’s highest-ranking officer decorated a Darkhorse Marine for combat valor here, April 11.
Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee presented the Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device to Sgt. Matthew S. Scarborough, a TOW gunner with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment at the Camp Fallujah Chapel of Hope.
The award for Scarborough’s actions a year-an-a-half ago while fighting in Fallujah. He’s back, this time with Regimental Combat Team 5.
“It’s a shock,” said the 22-year-old from Dripping Springs, Texas. “Big shock. It’s a good award, but I was surprised when I found out the Commandant was going to pin me.”
An auditorium of Marines stood at attention as the award citation was read.
Scarborough displayed exceptional performance of duty and bravery under fire while assigned an anti-tank guided missileman with Combined Anti-Armor Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom II on December 11, 2004.
Company K was conducting back-clearing operations seek out and destroy enemy combatants when Scarborough’s squad was tasked with aiding an under-manned rifle squad in clearing a block of buildings. Upon clearing the first floor of one particular building, the squad began moving up a stairway when they came under heavy automatic fire from an adjacent room at the top of the stairs, wounding one Marine. Scarborough and the other Marines dove into separate rooms to take cover.
Noticing two of his squad mates were trapped upstairs, he mounted a single-handed assault on the insurgent to rescue the two Marines. He single-handedly overwhelmed his opponent at point blank range without regard for his own safety and provided security for the evacuation of the two Marines, thereby avoiding further casualties during the mission.
Scarborough’s sheer determination to kill the enemy at all costs to save his wounded comrades earned him the military’s fourth highest award.
After the Hagee pinned the Bronze Star on his chest, Scarborough got a rousing applause from the auditorium of Marines. He said receiving the award from the commandant of the Marine Corps is one of his proudest moments in service.
“I want to thank a lot of people,” Scarborough said. “Especially the unit I was with, Renegade 1, for being there and helping me out despite whatever danger they put themselves in.”
Afterward, the Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, spoke to the Marines in the room and answered questions ranging from the situation in Iran to career incentives for different military occupations. They then posed for a group photo with the attending Marines of Weapons Company, who expressed their congratulations to Scarborough.
“It’s great to see one of your Marines get a Bronze Star,” said 1st Sgt. Roy West, Weapons Company’s first sergeant. “This is where the rubber meets the road and so many amazing things happen every day that you have to go above and beyond to be recognized.”
Scarborough had words of thanks for his parents, Max and Wendy Scarborough, and his sister Brooke.
“My mom, dad and my family have supported me through three deployments,” he said. “It must have been just has hard for them as it was for me. Their support means a lot.”