The 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade received the Presidential Unit Citation during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune on Friday. The award is the U.S. Military's highest possible honor for a unit.
"The skill, the professionalism, the devotion, the heroics of this unit cannot be overstated and neither can their accomplishments," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus.
Secretary Mabus presented the award to 2nd MEB on behalf of President Obama. The 28,000 men and women in the unit were recognized for outstanding performance in action against enemy forces in Afghanistan from May 29, 2009, to April 12, 2010.
The service members not only struck at the heart of the Taliban insurgency, but also helped to train Afghan forces, build communities, open schools, and protect the Afghan people, according to Secretary Mabus.
The men and women who did not return were also remembered at the ceremony today. "I think it really pays most credit to those, as was mentioned today, that didn't come back," said 2nd MEB Colonel Eric Mellinger, "or those wounded warriors we have that are still suffering."
Marine officials say in order to receive the award, the unit must have displayed such gallantry, determination and 'esprit de corps' in accomplishing its mission, under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions, to have set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign.
The degree of heroism required is the same as the Navy Cross awarded to an individual.