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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

Navy Cross recipient passes legacy to new Marines

By Cpl. Pedro Cardenas | Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego | March 14, 2014

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U.S. Marines prepare to step off on a patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, to clear the city of insurgent activity and weapons caches as part of Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Nov. 26, 2004. The Marines are (from left to right) Platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, Machine Gun Section Leader Sgt. Aubrey McDade, Radio Operator Cpl. Steven Archibald, and Combat Engineer Lance Cpl. Robert Coburn. All were assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq.

U.S. Marines prepare to step off on a patrol through the city of Fallujah, Iraq, to clear the city of insurgent activity and weapons caches as part of Operation al Fajr (New Dawn) on Nov. 26, 2004. The Marines are (from left to right) Platoon Sergeant Staff Sgt. Eric Brown, Machine Gun Section Leader Sgt. Aubrey McDade, Radio Operator Cpl. Steven Archibald, and Combat Engineer Lance Cpl. Robert Coburn. All were assigned to 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division conducting security and stabilization operations in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Knauth)


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Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego -- A drill instructor here knows very well how important his job is in training and preparing recruits for the rigors and hardships of combat.

Staff Sgt. Aubrey L. McDade, Navy Cross recipient and drill instructor, Platoon 3214, Company I, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion, uses his experiences from combat to passionately train recruits.

According to McDade, he feels that recruit training is a great opportunity to impact the Marine Corps’ future. He wants to mold the best possible Marines.

“I feel like the recruit training process is probably the most important part of the Marine Corps. We have a unique opportunity to impact the Corps for the next 4-to-40 years,” said McDade. “I feel like this is the most significant piece of the Marine Corps.”

McDade  is focused in teaching recruits unwavering discipline, courage and commitment, brotherhood and a sense of pride. The Marine Corps has given him the opportunity to meet life-long friends, a band of brothers. That is why he takes every opportunity he gets to give back to it, explained McDade.

“His work ethic is unmatched,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan A. Fromherz, senior drill instructor. “He trains recruits to the Marine Corps standards and to produce the best Marines.”

According to Fromherz, McDade is unselfish because he risked his life to save others and expected nothing in return. To Fromherz, an Aunsville, Ore. native, McDade’s humbleness is a sign of his character.

For McDade, the Marines around him are more important than any award he could ever receive.

“I like to talk about the Marines who lost their lives because they are the reason why I don’t forget where I came from,” said McDade. “I feel good (about the Navy Cross), but if I could give it back, though, I would for the Marines’ lives to come back.”

McDade's first tour during the Iraq War was from March 2003 to October 2003. He returned to Iraq for a second deployment from June 2004 through February 2005.

During his second deployment on Nov. 11, 2004, in the second Battle of Fallujah, McDade was a machinegun squad leader with 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, when his squad was attacked and pinned down by small arms and machinegun fire in an alley.

When two U.S. Marines were injured, McDade, without hesitation, rushed to the front of his squad and directed machinegun fire at his attackers. As a result of his actions, McDade rescued two wounded Marines.  Unfortunately, a third Marine was killed in the attack, but his body was recovered. Two Marines McDade rescued received medical care and survived.

“I asked my unit respectfully not to submit anything for me,” said McDade, a Houston native. “We are a band of brothers, and it’s not something I take lightly. I would do the same for my kids.”

According to McDade, he was originally awarded the Silver Star for his actions, but the award was then upgraded to the Navy Cross upon recommendation from White House staff.

On Jan. 19, 2007, McDade was presented with the Navy Cross during a recruit graduation ceremony at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island where he served as a drill instructor for 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Company C.

“I didn’t need to be recognized for doing what I am supposed to do,” said 32-year-old McDade. “However, there are a lot of fallen Marines who did not get recognized for their actions and for me getting the award; I feel like I speak for everybody. I accepted my award for them.”

McDade was honored for his heroism on Jan. 23, 2007 as the honor guest of former First Lady Laura Bush at the State of the Union Address.  He may have been honored at a national stage, but his pride of being a Marine is what keeps him humble.



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