MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Service members, colleagues, friends and family members gathered together at John A. Lejeune Hall aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to witness Lt. Col. Guy R. Coursey receive the Bronze Star medal, Sept. 13.
Coursey, who is currently serving as the installations and environment operations officer with Installations and Environment Department, MCB Camp Lejeune, received the award for his leadership and professionalism while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from August 2009 through April 2010.
Col. Daniel J. Lecce, commanding officer of the base, awarded the medal to Coursey.
“This is a very senior award; they don’t just give these out,” said Lecce. “Lt. Col. Coursey, I’m very honored and privileged to present this award to you.”
Coursey, an Eagle River, Alaska, native, served as an adviser to Afghan National Army personnel and was the officer in charge of Embedded Training Team 4-5. He advised three Afghan infantry Kandaks and simultaneously led his 21-member team of Marines and sailors, who were spread out between five combat outpost areas, in executing counterinsurgency operations in the Sayedabad District of Wardak province, Afghanistan.
Coursey said the ETT faced a number of challenges such as weather, terrain and cultural differences during their nine-month deployment. He added that working with high turnover rates from Afghan military personnel and U.S. Army task force commanders made it difficult to establish trust and long-term relationships. The team also suffered three casualties, one who is currently still recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and constantly faced imminent danger as they battled the terrorists’ improvised explosive device attacks, direct and indirect fire attacks.
In spite of the challenges, Coursey said each member of the team played their part and worked as one so they could ultimately build strong relationships with the Afghan militia.
“Most of my team were just average Marines, but with a little training and some good leadership, they did an exceptional job,” said Coursey. “It was a team effort.”
Coursey credited this team for his latest award and said it was an honor and a privilege to serve with them. ETT 4-5 was one of the last Marine ETTs in the region.
“With every award you get in the Marine Corps, regardless of how senior they are, the great majority are not earned yourself,” said Coursey. “My team helped earn this. They have done everything I could have asked them, so every time I look at (the Bronze Star medal), I will always think of them.”
Coursey also said his family played an instrumental role in both of his personal and professional success in the battlefield.
“My wife and kids earned it just as much,” added Coursey. “(My wife) went through a lot while she was at home, tending to the kids and wondering every night whether she was going to get ‘that call.’ So I wouldn’t have been able to do this without her being back here, providing morale support, knowing I had a home to come home to. So, thank you all.”
Lecce said Coursey and his team played a vital part in the War on Terrorism by fostering strong international relationships and winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people.
“This is where we win these wars,” said Lecce. “Bullets have something to do with it … but frankly, getting down with these people – into the ‘down and dirty,’ as we say … that’s really where we win the war, and that’s what Lt. Col. Coursey did.”