View Full Version : U.S. Brent Morel, Navy Cross , Iraq

08-25-2009, 10:26 AM
Navy Cross

Authorized February 4, 1919, the Navy Cross was the Navy's third highest award for combat heroism and other distinguished services. On August 7, 1942, Congress made the Navy Cross a combat only decoration with precedence over the Distinguished Service Medal, making it the Navy's second highest award ranking below only the Medal of Honor. It shares its position with the Army's Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Force Cross.

Brent Morel

* Date of birth: 26 July 1976
* Place of birth: Madison, Tenn.
* Home of record: McKenzie, Tenn.

Brent Morel earned a military scholarship established by the parents of Marine Sergeant and Medal of Honor recipient Walter Singleton, who was killed in action in Vietnam. He joined the Marine Reserves and graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin in 1999 with a degree in history. Brent became a commissioned officer in the Marines the next week and one week later was married. After he fell mortally wounded in the action that earned him the Navy Cross, Sergeant Willie Copeland shielded his body with his own. Copeland later said of Captain Morel, "My last memories of him will always be as a Marine who led a team to fight in the direction of the bullets. That was the type of Marine Morel was - he led from the front." Willie Copeland was himself, also awarded the Navy Cross for his own heroic action in this battle on this same date, and four members of Captain Morel's company received Silver Stars. It is a record unmatched by any Marine Corps Company, much less by any platoon, in the Global War on Terrorism.

Awards and Citations

Navy Cross

Awarded for actions during the Global War on Terror

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Captain Brent Lee Morel, United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Platoon Commander, Second Platoon, Company B, First Reconnaissance Battalion, FIRST Marine Division, First Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 7 April 2004. Captain Morel's platoon escorted a convoy into the Al Anbar Province when 40 to 60 insurgents in well-fortified and concealed positions initiated an ambush. Witnessing a rocket-propelled grenade crippling his lead vehicle and while mortar and machine gun fire erupted, he ordered his remaining two vehicles to secure a flanking position. Captain Morel left his vehicle and led a determined assault across an open field and up a 10-foot berm, in order to maneuver into firing positions. The boldness of this first assault eliminated several insurgents at close range forcing their retreat. Observing his Marines pinned down from enemy fire, Captain Morel left the safety of his position and continued the assault, eliminating the enemy's attack. During this valiant act, he fell mortally wounded by a withering burst of enemy automatic weapons fire. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Captain Morel reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Service: Marine Corps

Rank: Captain

08-25-2009, 10:27 AM
Faced with continual enemy fire from more than 50 insurgents, Capt. Brent L. Morel - by all accounts a "Marine's Marine" - led an assault across an open field with a handful of Marines following closely behind.

Where most would be looking for cover, Morel's assault was aimed at saving others - not himself - according to battlefield accounts.

Consequently, Morel, a platoon commander with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, posthumously received the Navy Cross - the Department of the Navy's second-highest award for combat valor – May 21, 2005, during a ceremony that drew hundreds at the Marine Forces Reserve Training Center.

It was the second Navy Cross awarded in less than two months to a 1st Recon Bn. Marine for combat actions April 7, 2004, during the first offensive in Fallujah as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The two awards are among nine Navy Crosses awarded to U.S. servicemembers for heroism during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Morel's award was presented to his wife, Amy. "Although I would rather have him receive the award in person, I am glad to see that his brave actions did not go unnoticed," Amy said, clutching the medal in her hand.

Sgt. Willie L. Copeland III and several other Marines who fought alongside Morel that day were on hand for the presentation.

"That was the type of Marine Morel was - he led from the front," said Copeland, a team leader with 2nd Platoon, Company B, 1st Recon Bn, which Morel commanded. "He was a personal mentor of mine, so I was constantly trying to obtain knowledge from him any way I could."

Morel's self-sacrifice came as no surprise, Copeland said.
"No medal or award can make up for the loss of a good Marine, but as a recon Marine, (Morel) knew that his life was on the line every day - and he was always proud of it," Copeland added.

Although Morel, 27, of Martin, Tenn., had been in the recon community for only a short amount of time, he made his mark among an elite crowd, Copeland said.

The award honored a "man amongst giants," said Mike Morel, Brent's father.

Also during the ceremony -- held at Morel’s very first unit after completing boot camp--- a life-like bronze bust of Morel in his helmet and protective vest was unveiled.

"The statue looked so real, right down to the scar he got while he was in boot camp," said Molly Morel, Brent's mother.

The statue will be placed in the library at Morel’s alma mater, the University of Tennessee at Martin.

"The library is where me and my husband met, so it is only fitting that his statue be kept there to inspire those who pass it by," Amy said.

08-25-2009, 12:57 PM
A job well done. RIP.