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thedrifter
12-30-06, 08:18 AM
OHIO NATIVE IN FALLUJAH FIREFIGHT
Marine braved bullets to rescue fellow troops
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Dana Wilson
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Marine Sgt. Jeremiah Workman struggles at times with the memories behind the dark-blue and white ribbon he now wears on the chest of his uniform.

The ribbon exemplifies honor and bravery, but it also reminds the 23-year-old of three fallen friends who didnít make it home from Iraq.

Workman, a native of Richwood, Ohio, was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during a battle in Fallujah in 2004. The medal, bestowed on 14 Marines since 2001, is second in prestige only to the Medal of Honor.

Workman, who returned from Iraq in 2005 and is now stationed at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia, downplays life as a military celebrity.

"Iíve never met a Marine that goes to war for a medal," Workman said. "I got awarded a Navy Cross, in my mind, for doing my job and for doing what any other Marine would do."

Workman was awarded the Navy Cross and a Purple Heart for his efforts while serving as a squad leader of the Mortar Platoon, Weapons Company, 3 rd Battalion, 5 th Marine Regiment based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

He was fighting as part of a mission code-named Operation Phantom Fury.

On Dec. 23, 2004, as Marines pulled wreckage from the streets of Fallujah and removed weapons left behind from a battle, the unit encountered insurgents hiding inside a twostory home, Workman said.

There were Marines trapped inside. Workman led the attack to rescue the Marines, rallying others to provide cover fire. He managed to pull some of the trapped Marines outside to safety.

During the three-hour attack, small-arms fire peppered the area around him. Grenades exploded near Workman, injuring him. Shrapnel dug into his arms and legs.

He thought he would die.

"Iíve never had that feeling of helplessness, but it motivated us to keep going," Workman said. "It was pretty ugly in there. These guys were prepared that day to battle to the death."

In the end, 40 Iraqi insurgents and three U.S. Marines were dead.

Twenty of those insurgents died under Workmanís fire.

"Thereís a lot of extra baggage that comes along with this," Workman said of his medal. "Not sleeping at night. Every time you look at the medal, you see three dead Marines."

He wears the ribbon with pride ó for them.

"I donít like taking the credit," Workman said. "Somebody was there and witnessed me doing it. Thereís a lot of other Marines that do things like this and donít get recognized because nobody saw it."

This month, the U.S. Department of Defense highlighted Workman as a hero in the war on terrorism as part of a national push to publicize the militaryís ongoing work in the Middle East.

"People were always asking, ĎWhy donít we hear about the heroes in the war?í " said Matt Latimer, a Pentagon spokesman.

"Itís just trying to let people who are interested know about some of the heroic things that our men and women in uniform are doing every day."

The medal might one day end up on display inside the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Virginia, where Workman now works. He is married and his wife is expecting a baby in February.

But for now, his mother, Lisa Johnston, of Marion, keeps it safely tucked away on her bedroom nightstand next to the family Bible. Workman wears the ribbon on his uniform as a symbol of the medal he earned.

"When he told me that he was getting it, I said, ĎI want it, Jeremiah.í And he said, ĎAw, Mom, what do you want that for?í I said, ĎThe same reason any mother would want it.í And nobody will ever get it until Iím gone," Johnston said.

The pride she feels for her son is hard to describe, she said, her voice quavering with emotion.

Workman joined the Marines in 2000, two days after his 17 th birthday, to fight for his country. Sept. 11 th happened a year later, while he was in boot camp.

"I always knew he was going to do something great in his life, but I never knew what it was," Johnston said.

dwilson@dispatch.com

Ellie

The1stSgt
01-03-07, 02:30 PM
Well done, SGT Workman.

devildog4life30
02-21-07, 11:50 AM
Marines loke that really make us proud!

MacAngus
02-21-07, 04:53 PM
I say give him free beer for life anywhere he and others like him go.