By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class(SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- The commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) presented awards to Riverine Group (RIVGRU) 1 and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story July 19.
During his RIVGRU 1 visit, Adm. J.C. Harvey Jr. presented Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SW) Michael Finch, Riverine Squadron 1, with the Purple Heart for wounds sustained in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Finch manned a mine resistant ambush protected vehicle gun during a four-vehicle tactical convoy from Basrah Area Operations Center (BAOC) June 25. While returning from a salvage operation, Finch's vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device about one kilometer southwest of BAOC. Finch's hand was severely damaged in the attack.
"I was extremely honored to receive the Purple Heart medal for doing my job. When everything happened all my training kicked in, and it felt like second nature; I racked my weapon (chambered a round) and assessed the situation," said Finch. "I am definitely excited to get back out there on deployment with my shipmates. If I could go now, I would."
Harvey presented NECC personnel with the Navy Unit Commendation (NUC) for exceptional meritorious service from 2006 to 2008.
"The results of NECC's mission have been beneficial to the Navy, to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to all the other places that we have deployed you," said Harvey. "Thank you and congratulations on a job extraordinarily well done."
From January 2006 through the end of 2008, NECC deployed more than 25,000 expeditionary forces to support combatant commanders and Navy component commanders' global requirements.
"It takes something special to receive a NUC. It took something special back in 2006 to bring all these communities together with their histories, traditions and backgrounds and to bring them all together in a coherent and complete way," said Harvey. "I respect the leadership team and the folks who have been here from day one for coming together and putting this command together."
Harvey said the incredible skill sets forged at NECC will be needed long after OIF and Operation Enduring Freedom.