Two Marines killed in Afghanistan receive Navy Cross

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Two Marines killed in Afghanistan in an “insider” attack were awarded the Navy Cross for bravery in a ceremony Saturday at Camp Pendleton.

Staff Sgt. Sky Mote and Capt. Matthew Manoukian were killed when a uniformed Afghan police officer began spraying AK-47 gunfire at Marines from inside the grounds of a U.S. outpost.

Before being mortally wounded, both Marines pressed a counter-attack, preventing other Marines from being killed or wounded, according to the Navy Cross citation.

Mote “boldly remained in the open and engaged the shooter, now less than five meters in front of him.” Manoukian “courageously drew heavy fire upon himself, disrupting the enemy pursuit of his comrades.”

Mote, an explosive ordnance disposal technican, and Manoukian, a team leader, were members of the 1st Special Operations Battalion.

Mote, from El Dorado in northern California, was 27. Manoukian, from Los Altos Hills in northern California, was 29.

Also killed in Aug. 10, 2012, attack was Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke, 31, of Herndon, Va. The shooter escaped in the melee, according to news accounts of the incident.

Mote’s father and stepmother were teachers. Manoukian’s parents were state judges.

The two are the 15th and 16th Marines to receive the Navy Cross, the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery, for actions in Afghanistan.

Read more of Tony Perry’s story at latimes.com