Salt Lake City Marine awarded Bronze Star
By Sgt. Tisha L. Carter-Valrie
| 12th Marine Corps District | August 31, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY --
Sergeant Maj. Jayme F. Winders, U. S. Marine Corps Recruiting Station Salt Lake City sergeant major, and Aurora, Ill. native, was awarded the Bronze Star, the nation’s fourth highest military decoration, Aug. 31, for actions during combat while deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr., Utah, honored Winders by personally presenting the medal in a ceremony attended by fellow Marines and members of the press at the state capitol.
"It is with deep honor that I present to you this commendation, but also having the distinct honor of pinning this award on your uniform," said Huntsman as he passed on the award.
Winders endured three back-to-back deployments, two of which were to Operation Iraqi Freedom. During his third tour, he volunteered to take the billet as the battalion sergeant major for Battalion Landing Team 1-4, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), I Marine Expeditionary Force from May to Dec.’04.
"He is exemplary of senior staff (noncommissioned officer) leadership and awarding this Bronze Star is grateful recognition of this," said Maj. David Bradney, MCRS Salt Lake City commanding officer.
When fighting broke out against the Mahdi Militia, Winders could have otherwise stayed back at the forward operating base near An Najaf. But without hesitation he left the base and headed straight for the Najaf cemetery, which was the location of the heaviest fighting.
Winders ignored risk to own his life as he traveled everywhere throughout the battlefield even though he came under attack from small arms and machine gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortar fire, helping to maintain the morale of his Marines. Despite the extreme 130-degree heat, he talked to Marines on the front lines, lending a sympathetic ear to those who had suffered a loss and help attend to wounded Marines. He often traveled with them during the medical evacuations to the battalion aid stations.
Winders never slowed in his effort to support his men and continued to risk his life to be with his Marines in combat, creating the kind of tight-knit family that only that special type of leadership can create.
"Every man feels fear, but it's about taking the step to go forward and lead. It's good to know that I'm working next to a man who understands leadership from the front," said Maj. David Bradney, MCRS Salt Lake City commanding officer.