Jul 19th 1985 – Mar 8th 2020
The Department of Defense has identified two Marine Raiders who were killed in Iraq while clearing a tunnel complex full of Islamic State fighters. Gunnery Sgt. Pongo 34, of Simi Valley, California, died March 8, 2020, while clearing a tunnel complex of Islamic State fighters in the Makhmur Mountains of southern Iraq. Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, was also killed in the incident. Both Marines were assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
Pongo’s personal awards included a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device, a Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, the Army Valorous Unit Award, four Good Conduct Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.
Both Marines were assigned to the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Pongo joined the Corps in 2004 as an 0311 rifleman. In 2008 he completed the Scout Sniper Basic Course and was a sniper team leader when he deployed to Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines. He became a Marine Raider in 2011 where he completed deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, a release from Marine Forces Special Operations Command said.