More than 1,000 members of Sergeant Jeffrey L. Kirk’s Marine Corp family gathered March 5 to honor the fallen Marine with the Silver Star. Sgt Kirk’s wife and parents sat beneath a tent next to the lectern. His fellow Marines stood in formation before the traditional rifle and helmet memorial. He was “a true Marine, a true warrior, a loving husband and a loving son,” said the battalion chaplain. Kirk’s widow, Carly, accepted her husband’s Silver Star from the battalion’s Commanding Officer.
On Nov. 10, 2004, Kirk led his Marines against a machine-gun position inside an Iraqi building in Fallujah, Iraq, during Operation Phantom Fury. Insurgents manning the position repelled Kirk’s squad with heavy gunfire and grenade attacks. Kirk replied by regrouping his men, and upon the second assault hurled a grenade into the room and eliminated the enemy machine-gunner with his rifle.
“I’m living proof of his heroism,” said Staff Sergeant Kenneth A. Distelhorst, a platoon sergeant for 3d Platoon, Company L. “Without his quick reaction, I wouldn’t be here today.”
During his squad’s second attempt to take the enemy position, the Marines were again repelled. This time, Kirk was wounded.
On the final assault, Kirk ignored his injuries and took the point position to lead his Marines against the insurgents. This time, they cleared the building all the way to the roof. His actions in the face of imminent danger destroyed a key defensive position and prevented serious casualties among his fellow Marines.
“Jeff will always be a role model and an inspiration,” said Sgt Dave H. Hawley, fire team leader. “If I had to describe Sergeant Kirk in two words it would be ‘Semper Fidelis.'”
Sgt Kirk died in other combat action on Dec. 12, 2004.
-from Leatherneck, July 2007