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Fallen Marine awarded for heroism

4 Sep 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

Cpl. Jordan C. Pierson didn’t lead Marines into combat because he wanted to be recognized or gather fame. He did it for the ones he stood next to – his fellow Marines.

Pierson, a 21-year old infantryman from Milford, Conn., was posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with combat distinguishing device Sept. 4.

Pierson was assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, and during his time here he led a rifle fire team on more than 100 successful combat patrols. The Marine noncommissioned officer was killed in action Aug. 25 while fighting alongside the very men he led.

“He loved being a Marine NCO,” said Lance Cpl. Nicholas J. Lambert, an infantryman from Charlton, Mass.  “It was the proudest thing in his life, and he loved the members of his team and leading them into combat.”

Pierson went far beyond the expectations that anyone set for him as a team leader. He took it upon himself to study the Arabic language, analyze insurgent tactics and constantly keep his Marines informed on what he expected the enemy to do next and what they would do in return.

“Cpl. Pierson challenged his Marines and those in his platoon to follow his lead. He would set the bar high and then challenge others to rise up to the same level,” said 37 year-old Maj. Vaughn L. Ward, C Company commander, from Arlington, Va.

As a team leader he was responsible for the actions of three Marines and was to direct his team members in any given situation. His direction always came from the front.

“On the last raid I did with him, he put a blue light on the back of his helmet,” said Lance Cpl. Radoslaw Smolinski, a member of Pierson’s team from New York City.  “He did that so we could see where he was because he was always the first one in the door, always the first one in the house even though he was the team leader. So all we had to do, according to him, was follow the blue light.”

The leader pushed his Marines hard, but was the first to lend a hand and be there for his men.

“During an operation, we were patrolling, and it was about 120 degrees,” Smolinski explained.  “I ran out of water and he gave me the rest of his, even though he probably needed it just as bad as I did. He always led from the front.”

His fellow Marines recalled how on several occasions, Pierson put his own injuries and personal health aside to aid those he fought with.

“While under direct enemy small arms fire on 12 April, he ran across a roof to engage the enemy and suppress the enemy for his squad,” said 1st Sgt. Ben A. Grainger, C Company first sergeant, from Myrtle Beach, S.C.

“On 24 May, while wounded in the arm and leg by an enemy grenade attack, he joined hid squad leader on assault of the enemy,” 39-year-old Grainger added.

Pierson did not believe in giving up, even when metal shards were lodged into his own body.

“He yelled out that he was hit to me, then he got up onto his feet, brushed himself off, and with total disregard for his own injuries rushed around the corner to try and catch the guy who threw the grenade at us,” 25-year-old Lambert said.

His award for heroic actions and superior performances was placed on his memorial during a service held to honor him. 

“It is because of men like Jordan that the people of Fallujah harbor some hope for their future,” said 46-year-old Lt. Col. Christopher A. Landro, the battalion’s commander, from Kennesaw, Ga.