BLOUNT ISLAND COMMAND JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- During a recent awards ceremony, LtCol. Paul F. Turner was presented the Bronze Star Medal here aboard Maritime Prepositioning Ship MV 1stLt. Baldomero Lopez.
Turner, a 27-year veteran and Charleston, S.C., native, received the naval service's fourth highest award in connection with combat operations as the deputy assistant chief of staff, G-3, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force, Maritime Prepositioning Force, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Central Command, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from June to November 2003.
Two other BICmd Marines were also presented the Bronze Star Medal in separate ceremonies.
"LtCol Turner's award, the Bronze Star, is prestigious and indicative of his performance, and the vital role he played supporting the post Operation Iraqi Freedom I, Maritime Prepositioning Force regeneration effort. I am proud to say that LtCol Turner played a leading role in ensuring the Marine Corps" crisis response/ power projection capability is ready should the Marine Corps be called upon to respond to a crisis," said Col. Carl D. Matter, commanding officer, BICmd.
Turner planned, organized and deployed a 278-person technical assistance and advisory team. He integrated the team into the battalions and staffs of the Special Purpose MAGTF, which executed the operational reconstitution and backload of 11 MPS.
He oversaw all major phases of regeneration, reconstitution and retrograde to include accountability, production, mobile load, containerization, data collection, movement and ship loading.
His professional competence and aggressive oversight of all aspects of reconstitution operations led to the successful backload of 9.8 million pieces of prepositioning equipment and 11,532 principle end items in a four and a half month period during continued combat operations and under extreme environmental conditions.
"This award is not just about me and what I did, it's about the young Marines, the 17, 18, and 19-year-old Marines... working with them; seeing them operate under some of the harshest conditions.
Some Marines go through their entire careers and never see Marines work the way they did," Turner said.
"The size of the operation was a once in a lifetime evolution, working hand in hand with Marines having no MPF experience," Turner said.
According to Turner, the Marines were in the middle of Kuwait with no running water during the hottest time of the year.
"If you laid a wrench on top of a tank, in 10 minutes, it would be so hot you could not pick it up with your bare hands," Turner said.
Despite the heat and conditions, Turner said it was the highlight of his career.
What made it so memorable was having both his sons working in the same operation with him.
According to Turner, both his sons took a semester off from their studies at college, and applied for jobs with a civilian contractor employed by the Marine Corps and Blount Island to support the MPF Program at Blount Island.
They both volunteered for the operation, and became a part of the 278-person team.
"It is something very difficult to explain to someone, unless you were there. We were there together, and they experienced the hardships we all faced," Turner said.
"I will always remember the remarkable experiences we shared together," he said.