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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Expeditionary Training Base"

Marines save lives, earn Navy and Marine Corps Medals

By Cpl. Alvaro Aro | | June 24, 2009

For their display of courage and bravery, two Marines were presented with Navy and Marine Corps Medals during a graduation ceremony at the School of Infantry West, June 23.

Staff Sgts. Shawn M. Martin and Jason M. Kuehnl received their awards for individual acts of heroism while serving as a combat instructors, when on two separate occassions, one of each of their students failed to follow proper throwing techniques during basic M67 fragmentation grenade training. 

As a result, the live hand grenades did not clear the pit wall, and put the lives of the Marines in the training area and those around it in danger.

As the grenades ricocheted to the bottom of the pit, both Martin and Kuehnl took immediate action, grabbing their junior Marines, and forcing them over the wall of the pit without thinking of their own well-being.

According to the Jane’s Infantry Weapons publication, the M67 fragmentation grenade has three to five seconds from the time the wire clip is released and the pin pulled, before it detonates. The M67 has an effective casualty radius of 15 meters. Fragments can disperse as far away as 230 meters.  

Due to the instructors’ immediate actions, mental tenacity, and remarkable bravery, no injuries were sustained by either the junior Marines, their classmates or their trainers.

By their courageous and prompt actions in the face of great personal risk, Martin and Kuehnl reflected great credit upon themselves upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

“Today, you are being witnesses of something that does not take place often in our Corps, the awarding of the Navy and Marine Corps Medal to these two brave Marines,” said Col. Brennan T. Byrne, Commanding Officer, School of Infantry West.

The Navy and Marine Corps Medal is the second highest non-combatant medal awarded by the United States Department of the Navy to members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. It was established by Congress on August 7, 1942.