Dallas Marine wife, children presented posthumous Bronze Star for husband's valor in Iraq
By Gunnery Sgt. Rusty Baker
| | August 04, 2005
The wife of fallen Marine 1st Lt. Dustin M. Shumney was presented the Bronze Star (posthumously) with the Combat ‘V’ device August 4 as a result of his heroic actions in Fallujah, Iraq while serving as the commander of 2nd platoon, Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team for Hawaii based 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force.
Members of the Fort Worth based 14th Marine Regiment as well as dozens of local supporters, active duty Marine Corps units, Marine auxiliary units and Marine Corps support organizations were on hand at the Dallas restaurant, Paul’s Porterhouse, where 14th Marines’ Regimental Inspector/Instructor, Lt. Col. Wayne Harrison, presented the award to Julie Shumney and her children Jordan, 12; Mallory, eight; Conner, three.
The Dallas/Fort Worth based Marine Corps support organization Metroplex Marine Coordinating Council, which has been meeting regularly at Former Marine Paul Sermas’ Porterhouse since 1992, helped organize the ceremony after their involvement with Shumney’s funeral in February, according to Metroplex Marines’ president Mike McCollum. Several former Marines and other military members were on hand to witness the event, including Medal of Honor recipients: Cmdr. Tom Norris, MOH-Navy; Sgt. Robert O'Malley, MOH-Marines; Col. Bob Howard, MOH-Army; and Col. Jim Fleming, MOH-Air Force.
Lt. Col. Harrison said, “I am thankful for living in the Dallas/Fort Worth area where such a strong group of Marine Corps supporters, like the Metroplex Marines, can come together in such a time of need. The Metroplex Marines are as powerful a support group that any I’ve seen. We say, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine,’ they take it to the next level and go out of their way to support.”
Metroplex Marines’ support was already well underway by the time it was learned that Mrs. Shumney really didn't know many people in the Dallas area, but choose to stay because she was living with her sister here when her husband died, said McCollum.
“I am forever grateful that, not only do the Marines not leave each other behind, but they also do not leave their brothers’ families behind when they have given the ultimate sacrifice,” said Julie Shumney. “I feel so grateful that my husband picked the Marine Corps. The Corps was a decision we made as a family; a sacrifice as a family.”
Of the many supporters that were on hand, the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation’s Vice President, James D. MacPhail, presented the Shumney family three separate $20 thousand patriot bonds to be used for scholarships for each of the children. Since its ten years of existence, the Denville, N.J. foundation’s donors have generated over $24 million for the children of Marines and law enforcement personnel that have been killed.
“I am very proud and grateful that this organization looks out for us, and it just blows my mind how the organization made sure my children were provided for. I feel like I am not alone and that I have a lot of support from everyone,” said Julie.
First Lt. Shumney’s Bronze Star covered a span from Nov. 8 to Dec. 9 2004 during his platoon’s involvement in the invasion of Fallujah, otherwise known as Operation Al Fajr. His death and the fate of his platoon would be a separate incident more than a month later.
According to the summary of award submission approved by I Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, from the onset of Operation Al Fajr, 1st Lt. Shumeny’s confidence, proficiency and warfighting spirit made a positive impact on his platoon’s ability to fight. While staged in the company attack position outside Fallujah, he calmly ensured his Marines vigilantly “dug in” while receiving sporadic mortar rounds and small arms fire. As they moved toward the breach sight in armored tracked vehicles, he kept his platoon focused and ready to attack while four seriously wounded Marines were medically evacuated amid the barrage of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, machine gun and small arms fire that met the company as they moved toward the breach.
The summary goes on to report during the initial penetration into Fallujah, Shumney led his platoon through the breach site and into the city to gain a foothold for the battalion landing team. Designated as the second platoon to cross the breach site and gain the battalion’s initial foothold inside Fallujah, Shumney and his Marines did not hesitate to attack into the city when the breach lane was not proofed or marked by engineers. He fearlessly led his platoon through an area that was known to be mined. Because of difficulties in the engineering effort at the breach site, tanks were unable to maneuver through the breach and provide far side security for the dismounted infantrymen of Charlie Company. Demonstrating great initiative, flexibility and proficiency, Shumney directed his Marines to seize a foothold west of Phase Line Charles, approximately 100 meters northwest of BLT Objective Bravo, the Al Tawfiq Mosque. On the darkest night of the month, he led his platoon in clearing insurgent held buildings, securing a jump off point for the rest of the unit. Once tanks crossed into the city, Shumney coordinated with the tank platoon commander and prepared his Marines to attack south into the heart of Fallujah. As they moved to BLT Objective Bravo, his platoon came under fierce enemy RPG, machine gun and small arms fire. As the battle ensued, with complete disregard for his own safety, Shumney unflinchingly moved about the battlefield identifying targets, coordinated fires with the tanks and ensured all sectors of fire were covered. Chimney’s courage and leadership were instrumental in the BLT’s ability to establish a foothold in the city and keeps line of communications open.
The company remained in contact with the enemy with little interruption through each BLT objective. Shumney’s 2nd Platoon was engaged in ferocious firefights along the way. Under nearly constant RPG and small arms fire, Shumney’s poise and courage on the battlefield allowed him to keep track of positions of all his platoon members and provided the company commander the required situational awareness to coordinate with higher and multiple adjacent units to fight the enemy through the city.
After nearly 16 hours of fierce urban warfare, the company secured BLT Objective Charlie. Shumney’s infantry skill and warrior spirit was the catalyst for his platoon’s fearless and violent push from the breach site to the Mahajareen Mosque. Overcoming an improvised explosive device attack that seriously wounded three Marines en route to the breach site – a breach that was not proofed or marked – he crossed without tank support or far side security. With an unknown disposition of enemy forces in zone, Shumney’s leadership contributed immeasurably to Charlie Company’s successful main effort attack into the heart of Fallujah and set the stage for successful supporting effort attacks by Alpha and Bravo companies.
Once the penetration was complete, Shumney continually volunteered his platoon for the most challenging missions. Ever conscious of the risk of clearing buildings in a city filled with terrorist cells, Shumney led his Marines into buildings and blocks known to house insurgent cells. His leadership and mental agility helped identify and eliminate numerous large weapons caches, IED factories and insurgent propaganda production sites. His efforts resulted in the capture or elimination of over 100 insurgents, 500 enemy weapon systems, and thousands of ordnance items and ammunition.
On November 10, 2004, Shumney and his platoon began clearing buildings adjacent to their temporary firm base. After clearing the first floor of a building, insurgents on the second floor opened fire, killing one Marine and wounding six others. Ignoring grenades being dropped from the second floor and armor-piercing machine gun fire coming through the ceiling, Shumney coordinated reinforcements from his platoon and directed fires within the building to suppress the enemy. With wounded Marines requiring urgent medical care trapped inside the building by enemy fire, Shumney quickly coordinated for a D-9 bulldozer to punch a hold into the building, creating an evacuation route for the casualties. His quick thinking under fire saved the lives of his wounded Marines, prevented further injuries, an resulted into two enemy killed in action, according to the summary of award submission.
One month after his actions in Fallujah, 1st Lt. Shumney and his Marines received a mission to relocate near the Syrian border and provide security for the long-awaited Iraqi election. According to the Defense Department, on Jan. 26, 2005 the CH-53E Sea Stallion helicopter he and his men were using for transport crashed due to a sandstorm about 200 miles from Baghdad near Ar Rutbah, Iraq killing all on board. Approximately 30 Marines and one sailor perished in the crash making it one of the deadliest days for U.S. troops since the initial invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
“It was hard in the beginning,” said Julie. “I remember trying to find anything positive for the kids to hold on to. One of the first things that came to mind was the Bronze Star. I spoke about it frequently, giving the children something to look forward to. So you can imagine the joy and smiles on our faces when Lt. Reis (Now Capt. Matthew D. Reis, 14th Marine Regiment Adjutant) called to say the ceremony was being set up.”
“I was honored, privileged and humbled to represent the Marine Corps and the Commandant of the Marine Corps in presenting Mrs. Shumney the Bronze Star,” said Lt. Col. Harrison, a 40-year-old Fort Worth resident with a wife and small children of his own. “The most moving experience of that day was sitting with Lt. Shumney’s mother and wife at the dinner table. I was humbled when I realized just how strong they were. Not strong like a lance corporal that’s going into battle, but just as strong as anybody I’ve ever met.”
“We have been looking forward to this day,” Julie said. “It was a time to celebrate it made us realize the mourning was over, for the time being. We stay very positive, as we know that Dustin would not have it any other way. We are so proud to be the wife and children of Lt. Dustin Shumney. Dustin’s biggest goal in life was to always make us proud…and he accomplished that with flying colors.”
Before earning his commission Shumney lived with his widowed mother, Shama Shumney, in Benicia, Calif. He was her only child. Shumney graduated from Benicia High School in 1992 and later obtained his degree at Sacramento State University.
“Dustin believed in what he did,” Shama Shumney said in a Vallejo Times interview. “He was proud of what he was doing. I’ve gotten my strength from him.”
“He led from the font,” said Harrison after learning of the Marine’s actions in Fullajah. “His Marines respected him, and he would have done anything for them. He constantly put himself in harm’s way to get the mission accomplished.”
Recommend Citation: For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations involving conflict with an opposing force while serving as Platoon Commander, 2nd Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1/3, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force from November to December 2004, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II. First Lieutenant Shumney’s bravery, tactical ability, and leadership prowess contributed substantially to unit success during Operation AL FAJR, the assault on the city of Fallujah, Iraq. From the initial penetrations into the city, to the numerous firefights and engagements encountered over four weeks of continuous combat operations, First Lieutenant Shumney consistently led the Platoon from the front. On 10 November, while clearing the first floor of a building, insurgents on the second floor and armor piercing machine gun fire coming through the ceiling, First Lieutenant Shumney coordinated reinforcements and directed fires within the building to suppress the enemy and move the casualties out of the line of fire. With insurgent machine gun fire cutting off the exit route out of the building, he quickly coordinated for a D-9 bulldozer to punch a hole in the wall so the severely wounded Marines could be evacuated. His quick thinking under fire saved the lives of his wounded Marines, prevented further injuries, and resulted in two enemy casualties. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, First Lieutenant Shumney gallantly gave his life for his country and reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized.