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StarBulletin.com

Female Marine honored for her valor under fire


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POSTED: Saturday, September 12, 2009

First Lt. Rebecca M. Turpin is one of 12 women awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with a combat “;V,”; which signifies service under enemy fire.

The Kaneohe Marine was a motor transportation company platoon leader for Combat Logistics Battalion 3 in Afghanistan from October to May.

During an 80-mile mission delivering supplies to other U.S. Marines and British troops at Forward Operating Base Musa Qalah, a roadside bomb exploded in the middle of the 18-vehicle convoy.

“;Turpin immediately provided direction on immediate actions to cordon the site, sweep for secondary devices, and have the explosive ordnance disposal team assess the site,”; wrote Lt. Col. Michael Jernigan, the battalion's commanding officer, in his award recommendation.

Eight hours later, Turpin's patrol was hit by another homemade bomb, destroying a mine roller.

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Thirty-five hours into the mission, Turpin's patrol entered an Afghan village where men were farming their land and children were playing soccer in the streets.

“;The men in the village began rushing the women and children into the houses and began gathering; I had a sinking feeling when I saw this,”; Turpin said in a Marine Corps news release. “;I heard my gunner yell, 'RPG!' and heard the RPG strike our refueler's engine block, disabling the vehicle.”; (RPGs are rocket-propelled grenades.)

“;It's like a huge crack that you can feel in your chest,”; Turpin said of the RPGs.

Turpin formed a security perimeter around the disabled vehicle, rigged it for tow and then called for air support.

Cobra helicopters escorted part of the convoy, which included two wreckers that were towing damaged vehicles, out of the valley.

However, another part of the convoy was attacked by insurgents using rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

“;I was just thinking, 'We have got to get these Marines out of this valley,'”; Turpin said. “;The more that happened, the initial shock begins to wear off, and you get into the zone of dealing with the problem at hand.”;

More than two days after the mission began, the patrol reached its destination. Five days later the patrol returned to Camp Bastion with no other incidents.

“;Throughout the mission, Lt. Turpin led by example and set the standard of calm under fire,”; Jernigan wrote. “;She ensured that her Marines effectively fought their way out of dangerous situations and completed her logistics resupply mission. Her efforts ensured the delivery of vital combat logistics support to FOB (Forward Operating Base) Musa Qalah while eliminating several enemy threats along the way.”;

Turpin said in a written statement, “;No matter how long the patrol went on, how tired and hungry the Marines and corpsmen were, they did everything they were asked to do and more. They supported one another, each did their own part, and by all elements of the patrol working so fluidly and efficiently, this patrol concluded with zero casualties.”;

Turpin, who received the medal on Sept. 4, is the seventh female Marine officer under the rank of captain to be awarded this medal with the combat “;V.”;