A Marine with Echo Battery, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines who sustained injuries supporting Operation Inherent Resolve was awarded the Purple Heart at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune July 28.
Maj. Gen. John Love, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, attended the ceremony and presented the award to Cpl. Daniel Meinema.
"(The Purple Heart) has always represented the very best of what it is to serve the nation," said Love. "You spot it almost immediately when you look at a Marine in uniform. You know right away that Marine has seen action, lived up to his core values and his sense of service, and has paid that little bit of extra sacrifice."
On March 19, while Meinema was deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq, Meinema’s gun position was attacked by fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, better known as ISIS.
"It was just another morning. Wake up really early, get some breakfast, and go about a normal day. We didn’t hear it coming, and we didn’t see it coming. Some of us were blown back several feet. After that it was instant. The guys realized what was going on and what had happened. Marines were injured and (we) got right to taking care of those Marines before anyone else even got there," said Meinema. "All the training we had done the entire time on the MEU, our entire time in the Marine Corps had been training for situations like that, and we went right to it. We did everything we could."
Staff Sgt. Louis Cardin was killed in action during the same attack. Cardin was Meinema’s staff noncommissioned officer in charge, but was also his mentor and friend.
"When we all first got here, he was the first one to sit us down one-on-one, two or three, and talk to us about the Marine Corps, his experience and his knowledge. He was really setting us up for success," said Meinema. "We grew to be great friends. It’s still tough. It’s tough to lose not only a staff sergeant and fellow Marine, but a really good friend."
Cpl. William Crisostomosfelipe, Cpl. Adam Seanor, Lance Cpl. Eli Cisco, Lance Cpl. Javier Suarezmontalvo, Lance Cpl. Jose Rodriguez Jr., Lance Cpl. Justin Camp and Lance Cpl. Tyler Fulton, members of Meinema’s unit, were also awarded the Purple Heart in April and were present for Meinema’s ceremony to show support for their fellow Marine.
"(We) feel accomplished that we meant something to what we were tasked out there to do (and that’s) Staff Sgt.’s legacy forever. We’re never going to forget what he did for us. From all the countless hours of classes and teaching and preparing us for that (situation), then the sacrifice that he made," said Meinema.
Love ended the ceremony by thanking Meinema for his sacrifice and for his actions during the attack.
"From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you. On behalf of me, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, the Marine Corps, and the United States of America, we’re grateful for people like (Meinema) who go out there and get it done," said Love.