Lejeune Marine receives Navy Cross posthumously

High command officials award fallen Marine's family Navy Cross

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - A gunnery sergeant from Florida whose actions saved the lives of fellow and Afghan fighters in 2012 received posthumously the Navy Cross during a ceremony at Camp Lejeune.

The Navy's second-highest award was given Tuesday to the family of Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, a native of Palm Bay, Fla. The military says Gifford was serving as a chief for a Marine Special Operations team when he was killed in Afghanistan in July 2012.

"There's a little bit of a grieving process.  I'd be lying to tell you that's not the case to realize that we're going to be deprived of his services and his leadership. But the goal today was to make it a positive and an uplifting thing," said U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John Paxton.

Gen. Paxton, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, presented the award to Gifford's family.

"It was never about him and about accomplishment. It was about making things better for other people, whether it was his wife and his family, his teammates, his fellow Marines. This was just about being professional, being competent and being good," said Gen. Paxton.

Gifford was a member of the 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion.

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