MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Corporal Christopher B. Farias, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, was awarded the nation’s second highest award for bravery during a ceremony here, May 18.
Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work presented the Navy Cross to Farias for heroic actions while serving as an assistant squad leader in the Kajaki district of Afghanistan on Oct. 5, 2010.
After Farias, a native of La Porte, Texas, arrived in Afghanistan, the commanding officer pulled the Marines together and mentioned they would protect the Kajaki Dam and relieve British forces at the front line.
“To find out that we’re surrounded in three different areas by Taliban fighters, that’s telling me that we’re definitely on our own on this one,” Farias explained.
Farias was excited to do infantry missions because he had experience in Iraq with foot patrols and security and felt the Marines in his squad were well trained and confident in their abilities to complete their mission on the northern frontier of the Marines’ battlespace in Kajaki.
During the night of the fight, Farias requested to go on the mission because he enjoyed patrolling, he said. The Marines planned to set up an ambush against enemy forces moving throughout the area.
While preparing for the attack, the Marines received reports that enemy fighters called for reinforcements, including a “special weapon,” a 73-millimeter recoilless rifle. The rounds are larger than the rounds of some mortar systems.
Farias and the squad heard an explosion and received enemy fire from three positions in a vicious ambush. Several Marines lay wounded by the recoilless rifle, and insurgent forces adjusted their fires and continued to shoot into the Marines’ position.
“These guys were tactically and strategically smart,” said Farias. They were well trained. To have guys who can fight just like you... they know how to maneuver, they know how to set you up for a proper ambush… to fight an enemy like that, it’s pretty insane.”
Farias suffered a concussion and fragmentation wounds in the neck and shoulder and received hasty treatment for his wounds before directing medical care for the other Marines. After securing the wounded, Farias climbed to a rooftop and controlled the fire of the machine guns to suppress enemy positions.
The suppressive fires kept the enemy down and allowed the squad to treat the wounded, clear a landing zone, and evacuate the casualties. Farias remained with his squad until an airstrike ended the engagement.
Afterward, Farias walked more than 2,000 meters back to a ground evacuation site. His neck was bleeding, and he felt drained due to blood loss, he remembered.
“As we were walking back, that’s when I started feeling every bit of pain possible,” recounted Farias. “I ended up realizing my right arm would not move. I could not move it to save my life if I wanted to.”
Farias was recommended for a Silver Star, which was upgraded to a Navy Cross. The Marines of 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment formed on the parade deck with M777 lightweight howitzers on display. Farias said he was honored to receive the award on behalf of his Marines and the unit.
“I don’t see it as actually for me,” Farias said. “I see it as for India Battery, but for me to stand there and be a representation for India Battery for that award… it’s a shocker.”