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Navy Cross recipient attends address


Staff report
Posted : Wednesday Jan 24, 2007 12:35:57 EST

All five services were represented on First Lady Laura Bush’s guest list for Tuesday night’s State of the Union speech in Washington, D.C.

Perhaps the most well known is Marine Sgt. Aubrey McDade who was recently awarded the Navy Cross for actions in Iraq more than two years ago.

According to a White House press release, explaining why the first lady’s guests were invited, McDade, now a Drill Instructor at Parris Island, S.C., served in Iraq from March 2003 to October 2003 and returned for his second tour in June 2004, which lasted through February 2005. His actions in Fallujah in November 2004 earned him the Navy Cross.

From the Air Force, the first lady invited Tech. Sgt. Michelle Barefield, who served in Iraq from March to September 2006. While assigned to Baghdad International Airport, according to the release, Barefield survived three IED attacks, provided first-aid to a wounded comrade, and successfully repulsed a coordinated enemy small arms attack with deadly accurate return fire from her M-16. She also led 80 Explosive Ordnance Disposal emergency response missions. She has been awarded the Bronze Star.

Mrs. Bush also invited a soldier to attend the speech. Sgt. Tommy Rieman, from Independence, Ky., was on a reconnaissance mission in Iraq in Dec. 2003 when his team came under heavy enemy fire. From his Humvee, the White House release said, Rieman returned fire - and used his body as a shield to protect his gunner. He was shot in the chest and arm, and received shrapnel wounds to his legs - yet he refused medical attention, and stayed in the fight. He helped to repel a second attack, firing grenades at the enemy's position until their guns went silent. Rieman was awarded the Silver Star.

Navy Petty Officer First Class Corey Firman, who enlisted in the Navy in 1999, was also in attendance. The White House said he was invited for service in Iraq in 2004. As a Leading Noncommissioned Officer, Awards Clerk, and Administration Assistant to the Multi-National Security Transition Command in Baghdad, the release said he volunteered to participate in over 30 convoys and was subsequently subjected to over 180 incidents of hostile fire. Firman is now serving in the Office of the Secretary of the Navy as the Nominations Yeoman for the White House and Washington D.C. Placement, where he has been nominated for the Senior Sailor of the Quarter for the Secretary of the Navy. He has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal. He is married to Natacha Firman.

Since joining the military in August 2001, Coast Guard Boatswains Mate Nathan Thomas has conducted back-to-back deployments to Iraq, spending a total of seven consecutive months in the Persian Gulf in 2006. While deployed to U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, Bahrain, and Kuwait, he served as a primary maritime boarding officer, providing around the clock response capability in the North Arabian Gulf to protect the two major Iraqi offshore oil terminals from potential terrorist attacks. According to the release, he helped design a law enforcement tactics video and lesson plans to train military personnel on proper tactics, mission planning, close quarters combat, and appropriate use of force. He specifically used these resources in conducting training for over 500 foreign military servicemen including Marines and Navy personnel from Iraq and Kuwait. In addition, the release said Thomas trained 80 U.S. Coast Guard and 60 U.S. Navy members deployed to the Persian Gulf in high-risk non-compliant boarding procedures.

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USMC Sgt. Aubrey McDade Jr. was a guest of First Lady Laura Bush during the Jan. 23 State of the Union speech in Washington. He earned the Navy Cross, the Navy’s second highest award for valor, for actions in Iraq in November 2004.

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