MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- An infantry officer with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, was posthumously presented the Silver Star Medal and promoted in a ceremony here April 15.
His wife, Sally, received the award on behalf of Maj. Richard J. Gannon II, a former company commander for Company L from Allentown, Pa.
With only a five-month break between two deployments to Iraq, Gannon and his infantrymen found themselves battling back insurgents in early 2004.
During combat operations on the Syrian border in the Al Anbar Province, Gannon was fatally wounded April 17, 2004, while aiding his wounded Marines.
While leading his company to reinforce a besieged sniper observation post, Gannon’s unit came under intense rocket-propelled grenade, medium machine gun, and small-arms fire, according to the award citation. Maneuvering through the enemy fire, with complete disregard for his own safety, he entered the courtyard to search for a wounded Marine. Upon entering a house, he exchanged small-arms fire and grenades with nine Mujahadeen fighters and fell mortally wounded.
“He had a passion for being a Marine,” said Sally Gannon. “But he always found a way to balance his time with the Marines and our family.”
Lt. Col. Austin “Sparky” Renforth, operations officer for 1st Marine Regiment, remembers his friend as a man who strived to connect with all Marines.
“You’ve never seen such a diverse turnout of Marines. I mean we had Marines of all ranks attend the ceremony,” said Renforth. “That’s a testament to the kind of guy Gannon was.”
Sally credits the Marines of 3/7 for their support with coping the loss of her husband.
“The Marines have given me tons of emotional support, I couldn’t have done it without them,” said Gannon.
A service member is eligible for a Silver Star Medal if he is cited for gallantry in action:
(1) Against an enemy of the United States;
(2) While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or,
(3) While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
Because Gannon was selected for promotion before he died, he was posthumously promoted to major.