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Bronze Star Award Approved Admin |

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Tyshon T Barfield on 01/31/2004 04:02:06 PM
HQMC Military Awards Branch on 01/31/2004
01/31/2004 04:01:39 PM
James T. Conway, LtGen, Comanding General, I MEF



Summary Action: First Lieutenant Bates is enthusiastically recommended to be awarded the Bronze Star with “V” for his sustained meritorious and heroic performance of his duties while serving as a Combined Anti Armor Team Platoon Commander Red (CAAT Red), Weapon’s Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines from 21 March to 21 April, 2003. Throughout this period First Lieutenant Bates’ valor, professional application of sound judgment, initiative, and outstanding leadership was instrumental in the success of this Battalion during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. First Lieutenant Bates is a highly versatile Officer with unwavering personnel resolve, courage, and commitment to mission accomplishment. These traits were exuded throughout Operation Iraqi Freedom where his platoon was the lead element in contact during almost every one of the battalion’s engagements.

Division Objective 2 (Az Zubayr Oil Facility)

On 21 March 2003, First Lieutenant Bates’ CAAT Platoon was the advance guard of the battalion, tasked with establishing a guard in order to deny the enemy the ability to interfere with the battalion seizure of division Objective 2. As his platoon turned east through, what is known to the battalion as the pivot point, an SUV with 3-4 occupants was moving at a high rate of speed southwest out of Az Zubayr Oil Facility along Highway 29. When the vehicle spotted the CAAT platoon, the driver oriented his vehicle towards CAAT’s lead vehicle as if to ram the HMMV. It then executed a 180-degree braking turn and increased its speed back towards the oil facility. Fearing that the individuals inside the vehicle could possibly execute a sabotage of the valuable objective First Lieutenant Bates ordered that the vehicle be engaged; it was destroyed with MK-19 fire. The vehicle was last seen burning on the North side of Hwy 29, 400 meters West of Division Objective 2. All occupants are presumed dead.

At 1400Z, while enroute to their guard position Northwest of Az Zubayr Oil Facility, an enemy fire team size element was engaged by the platoon with small arms fire. Three EPW’s were taken and the rest of the enemy element fled northeast.

At 1530Z, CAAT Red was attempting to establish its guard position North of Hwy 29 when it took heavy machinegun fire and small arms fire from a berm in the vicinity (NV560640). CAAT Red returned fire with Heavy Machinegun and Medium machine fire and 8 individuals were seen fleeing to the East.

By sundown on 21 March, First Lieutenant Bates had successfully established his guard position and Division Objective 2 was called seized. Despite constant ground and aerial reconnaissance of the surrounding areas, First Lieutenant Bates would awaken to a drastic change in the enemy situation. At a distance of 150 meters the platoon observed a well-organized defensive position consisting of (8) T-55s, (3) MTLBs and (2) fuel tankers. Assuming he was unobserved and due to the close proximately of the positions he ordered dismounts to move to the flank of the tank’s positions. Upon further investigation it was determined that the position was abandoned. Shortly after this initial contact, CAAT Red observed (2) personnel jump into the turret of an abandoned T-55 that was located within 500 meters of his position and in a near perfect hull down position. Concerned with the accuracy of the TOW missile at such close range and understanding the devastating effects of his Heavy Machineguns, he ordered the tank to be engaged with Heavy and Medium Machinegun fire. Those individuals abandoned the tank and broke contact to the East. At 0500Z, First Lieutenant Bates ordered a reconnaissance patrol to continue to assess the changes in the composition and disposition of the enemy forces.

During the conduct of this patrol an unknown size force again engaged his platoon. First Lieutenant Bates reported receiving small arms fire from what he observed as being a well organized armored defensive position and began to engage the enemy with accurate machinegun and missile fires. Almost immediately, an adjacent friendly unit reported receiving missile fire in close proximately of the enemy positions. Lieutenant Bates was ordered to cease his fire due to the possibility of friendly units in the same area. Despite the risk to himself and to his unit First Lieutenant Bates calmly re-evaluated the situation, re-confirmed that it was in fact an enemy unit and continued to engage the well dug in force. During the course of the patrol, they took RPG and small arms fire from the vicinity of AZ Zubyr proper. They immediately returned small arms fire and once again the enemy broke contact and escaped.

They continued the patrol and uncovered (12) T-55 Tanks, (3) MTLB’s and (2) supply trucks. The platoon engaged the positions and destroyed a portion of the enemy vehicles by a combination of TOW, AT-4, grenades, and demolitions. Unconvinced that the tanks had been destroyed, and due to their exceptional fighting positions, he quickly closed with the positions destroying (2) T-55 tanks with fragmentation grenades. The Marines in his charge described his actions stating that he dropped one fragmentation grenade in the T55 commanders hatch, then did a combat roll over a berm, and dropped another hand grenade into the commander’s hatch of the next T55.

Movement to Contact An Numaniyah to Al Kut

On 3 April 2003 CAAT Red (the lead element of the Battalion movement toward Al Kut), came under small arms fire from a Palm Grove (NA420998). In order to maintain the battalion’s momentum and to properly support the Main Effort’s attack, he gave the order for his platoon to suppress the enemy fire on the known locations and continue the movement. The enemy fire ceased immediately, and First Lieutenant Bates sent a contact report to higher allowing B Company to gain the situational awareness required to attack the now known enemy position.

Later that day, while providing far-side security for bridge (NA492980), 3-5 dismounts were observed running toward Iraqi military vehicles. These military vehicles were immediately suppressed with Medium and Heavy machine gun fires resulting in the dismounts fleeing the scene and the destruction of (3) Iraqi vehicles.

Isolation of Baghdad

On 5 April 2003, CAAT Red was assigned the responsibility of providing security for 1st Section, 81mm Mortar Platoon as they established an MFP in the town of Al Muhaydi As Salih (MB593693). As CAAT Red was in the process of establishing a vehicle checkpoint, an unobserved vehicle approached them at a high rate of speed with no intention of stopping. First Lieutenant Bates quickly drew his 9mm pistol and fired (2) rounds into the hood of the vehicle. The vehicle stopped and three occupants were detained. His quick decision making ability undoubtedly saved the lives of numerous Marines manning the checkpoint.

At the conclusion of this engagement numerous civilians who were injured in mortar preparatory fires approached CAAT Red’s position seeking assistance in the town of Al Muhaydi As Salih. These injured civilians (some mortally wounded) included woman and small children. First Lieutenant Bates, quickly assessed the situation, sent a corpsman and 2 combat lifesavers to triage the injured, and notified higher headquarters of the situation. After the triage was completed and ensuring the causalities were treated as best as possible he sent them to the nearest hospital. His actions saved the lives of several innocent civilians.

On 5 April 2003, CAAT Red established a blocking position in the vicinity of (MB 559695). Despite repeated warnings to stop, a white Mercedes attempted to ram the Platoon’s position. At the direction of First Lieutenant Bates the vehicle was engaged with small arms, medium and heavy machinegun fires, destroying the vehicle and killing both occupants.

On 8 April 2003, CAAT Red, while escorting a portion of the battalion, encountered (2) men with AK-47’s while conducting a zone reconnaissance of an industrial complex (MB515775). Both men were killed by M-16 fire, and their weapons were recovered.

First Lieutenant Bates continually exhibited an exceptional degree of bravery, leadership, professional competence, and devotion to duty. His contributions to the success of the battalion are numerous and his courage under fire unquestionably saved the lives of numerous Marines and civilians alike.

Lieutenant Bates completed every task with tenacity and zeal. His contributions to this Battalion have been significant. His performance and unselfish acts of bravery should be recognized through the awarding of The Bronze Star Medal with “V” for valor.

The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.

Recommended Citation: For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations against the enemy as Platoon Commander, Combined Anti Armor Team Red Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, Task Force 3/4, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force from March to April 2003, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. First Lieutenant Bates conducted numerous combat missions disregarding his own well being for that of mission accomplishment and the safety of the Marines in his charge. After being engaged in four separate firefights within a six-hour period, Combined Anti Armor Team Red continued its attack toward Division Objective Two when an unknown force engaged the platoon. He reported receiving fire from an organized armored defensive position and thus began to engage the enemy with accurate machine gun and missile fire. Almost immediately, an adjacent friendly unit reported receiving missile fire in close proximity of the enemy positions. His platoon engaged the well dug in force and destroyed 12 T-55 Tanks, three MTLB’s, and two supply trucks. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, First Lieutenant Bates reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.

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