CAMP RIPPER, Iraq --
The closing statement on a Marine Corps award reads: “in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service.”
Normally, this is read exclusively to Marines, but for two select service members, this honor was bestowed upon them Monday for the superior performance of their duties while serving with Regimental Combat Team 5.
Army Sgt. Jenny M. Neuhart received the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Petty Officer 1st Class Boyd W. Lewis received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal.
“It’s a huge honor; I didn’t expect this at all,” said Neuhart, 25, who is from St. Louis. “(My unit) is getting ready to leave, and I didn’t expect this from RCT-5.”
“When someone gives you an award after a few months of work, it’s a pretty big deal,” said Neuhart, the women’s engagement program director with the 307th Psychological Operations Company, RCT-5. “This is an award that I (truly) felt that I really earned.”
Neuhart, who is completing a nine-month deployment here, has played an intricate role in the Iraqi women’s engagement program, and her efforts helped in advancing the program across the western Al Anbar province, which is stated on her award citation.
The program empowers the Iraqi women to think for themselves, teaches them new jobs and life skills and provides the Iraqi women a forum to gather and express their concerns to one another.
Lewis, 41, a religious programs specialist for RCT-5 from Willisburg, Ky., travels the regiment’s 30,000 square-mile area of operation monthly with the regimental chaplains to offer Marines and sailors religious services. Lewis modestly spoke of his role in helping others after receiving the medal.
“My job is to make sure that everybody we see has the opportunity and resources to express themselves in worship” said Lewis.
“As a common multiplier, you take whatever skill sets you have and do the best you can to enable other people to go out and do their job,” said Lewis after receiving the award. “Maybe I’m doing something here to enable other people….but I was still a little shocked (when receiving the award).”
According to Lewis’ award citation, prior to deploying to Iraq he trained two assistant volunteers to assist the religious team, and while deployed, he has organized religious services for more than 4,000 Coalition force members throughout the regiment’s area of operations.
The RCT-5 commanding officer, Col. Patrick Malay, said words of acknowledgement and praise to the service members during the awards ceremony.
“It’s very rewarding for me to give a soldier and a sailor an award,” said Malay. “They have both done an extraordinary job here.”