Two Gulfport Seabees have a new medal to pin on their uniforms. Commander Cliff Mauer and Lieutenant Commander Scott Hurst were presented the Bronze Star during a special ceremony at the Seabee base, Saturday.
The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who distinguishes himself or herself by heroic or meritorious service during military operations against an armed enemy. Both Mauer and Hurst were commended Saturday for their forceful leadership during Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
Commander of the Navy's construction divisions, Rear Admiral Charles Kubic, came to Gulfport Saturday because he wanted to pin the medals on these individuals personally.
"They were the leaders of the group that actually built the facilities to bed down the third Marine Air Wing and then played a key role in the Seabees' move North in the attack on Baghdad and support of the Marines," Kubic said.
Dozens of fellow Seabees congratulated the officers and wished them well. Both men will be re-deploying to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom, part two.
"I think we've got unfinished business, I think there's probably a long ways to go, still to get the Iraqi people to have a sovereign government, and I think that's what we want to have happen," Hurst said.
"We will be working side by side with Iraqi's and the intent there is to prove to them that we want you to succeed in democracy, we want the liberation of Iraq to work," Maurer said.
The Seabees will be going back to Iraq to rebuild infrastructure. Working outdoors will be a difficult and dangerous mission.
"In the end, I'm pretty confident that we'll win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. There's no doubt that what we're doing has a significant element of risk. Our troops are well trained. They will have high situational awareness.
Both Mauer and Hurst will be traveling back to Iraq within the next couple of weeks. Mauer was in Iraq last week preparing for the re-deployment. He said Iraq is already a changed country--people are out in the streets and the economy has significantly improved.