Benjamin Gonzalez

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lance Corporal Benjamin Gonzalez, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism action against the enemy while serving as an Automatic Rifleman, Company F, Second Battalion, First Marine Regiment, FIRST Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command on 18 June 2004, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II. Lance Corporal Gonzalez’ fire team was manning an observation post at the Saqlawiyah Bridge on the northern outskirts of Al Fallujah, Iraq. His observation post secured a critical bridge for the Coalition Forces’ main supply route. At approximately 1000, a motorcycle‚Äź borne insurgent sped by Lance Corporal Gonzalez’ observation post and threw a hand grenade into his fighting hole. Unhesitatingly and with total disregard for his own personal safety, Lance Corporal Gonzalez threw himself on his fellow Marine, Private First Class Koczan, shielding him from the blast. When the grenade detonated, Lance Corporal Gonzalez absorbed the blast and sustained serious injuries to his lower body. Private First Class Koczan survived the blast unscathed due to Lance Corporal Gonzalez’ heroic and selfless actions that may have saved the life of his fellow Marine and at the very least protected him from life threatening injuries. By his bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty, Lance Corporal Gonzalez reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.