A petition was posted on the White House website asking the president to award the nation’s highest award for valor to two fallen Marines who in 2008 stopped a truck laden with explosives from barreling through the checkpoint they were guarding in Iraq,saving dozens of lives.
Cpl. Jonathan Yale, a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, and Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, another rifleman with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines, were awarded the Navy Cross posthumously in February 2009. But the petition asks President Obama to upgrade the awards to the Medal of Honor.
Yale and Haerter were killed on April 22, 2008. They were manning an entry control point of a joint security station in Ramadi, Iraq, when a 20-foot tanker truck sped towards them. Iraqi policemen who were guarding the checkpoint with the Marines fled, but Yale and Haerter ran out in front of the truck and began to shoot.
The driver slowed and then detonated 2,000 pounds of explosives. The two riflemen were killed in the attack, but prevented the driver from penetrating the gate. Their actions were credited with saving the lives of at least 50 people.
For their bravery and for saving the lives of their commrades, the Marines should be awarded the Medal of Honor, according to G.F. of Alexandria, Va., who created the petition on the White House website in December.
“As the Iraqis around them fled, they leaned in, unloading their weapons,” G.F. wrote.
In order for petitions on that site to be reviewed by White House officials, they must get at least 100,000 signatures within 30 days. That deadline is Sunday. So far, about 2,800 people have signed it.
The blast that killed Yale and Haerter was captured by a security camera. In 2009, then-Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway, highlighted the actions of the two riflemen during that year’s Marine Corps birthday message.
Conway said that if older veterans questioned the capabilities of today’s generation of Marines, they could look to the courage, selflessness and devotion to duty shown by Yale and Haerter that day in 2008. Staff Sgt. Kenneth Grooms, with 1/9, spoke about the attack during the video message.
“I’m not sure if I could even put into the right words what it took for those two Marines that day to stare death in the face and say, ‘You’re not taking my brothers, you are not passing,’” Grooms said.