AT SEA - Capt. John E. Nobles III, a Morehead City, N.C., native, and Force Reconnaissance platoon commander, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device aboard the USS Kearsarge while at sea Feb. 16, 2013.
“Combat brings out the true character of a man or woman,” said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, 26th MEU commanding officer and Jarrettsville, Md., native. “It is in that environment that Marines and sailors do things that many would have thought they may not have been able to do.”
Awarded for the actions taken as commander of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), from Jan. 8, 2011 to June 7, 2011, the citation reads, “During this period, Captain Nobles demonstrated exceptional proficiency, courage, and aggressive leadership in the face of a relentless and determined enemy force within the Upper Sangin River Valley.”
Performing selfless acts of valor in the face of immediate peril, Nobles displayed honor, courage, and commitment in an unparalleled manner, faithfully staying true to the core values of the Marine Corps.
“Capt. Nobles responded, led and saved lives,” said St. Clair as he addressed the formation at the award ceremony. “It’s a humbling experience for me to be able to present this award to Capt. Nobles, and it’s a humbling experience for me to stand here, beside him, wearing the same uniform he wears – the same uniform that each and everyone one of you wear.”
The citation continues to read, “Captain Nobles served as a stalwart example of combat leadership and routinely moved to key locations despite the ferocity of enemy attacks encountered by him and his men. During numerous direct engagements with enemy forces, Captain Nobles exposed himself to accurate and sustained fires to emplace, coordinate, and direct the fires of his men, as well as supporting arms, onto the enemy.”
Nobles said the key to his platoon’s success was always having the upper hand by refusing to be intimidated by enemy forces. He also contributed their success to the ability of free movement. They were not restricted to certain patrol routes or areas of operation, so the enemy could not predict their movement and back lay IEDs.
Once Nobles and his men were deployed, the tide of engagements in the area turned. His keen leadership skills and the proper emplacement of his Marines saved lives, allowing more Marines to go home to their family.
“Once we felt like we worked one area enough we pushed on to a different sector,” said Nobles. “A lot of other units were restricted to certain areas due to the layout of the land. A bunch of good guys were down there. The battalion there at the time was 3/5 (3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment), and we felt really fortunate because we got to take a lot of heat off of them once we got in place. The general came up and told us their casualties had gone down 68% once we got there, and got the Taliban’s attention focused on us. It always feels good helping out your fellow Marines.”
Despite the heroic deeds he’s accomplished, Capt. Nobles remained humble, thanking his team leaders and contributing his success to their actions.
“We’re very fortunate we had such a good platoon,” said Nobles. “Our team leaders were absolutely phenomenal. Our company commander was also phenomenal. Everybody was always very aggressive and on the same page, which helped out a lot.”