Chris Jackson, a network cameraman, and Marines from Multi-National Force and Corps-Iraq pose for a group picture at an awards ceremony Jan. 24. Jackson was awarded the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award for pulling a Marine from a burning vehicle in Afghanistan Aug. 3, 2008.
By Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante
13th Public Affairs Detachment
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq - On Aug. 3, 2003, while traveling the dangerous roads of Afghanistan, a cameraman working for Fox News risked his life to save a U.S. Marine from a vehicle engulfed in flames.
While embedded with 2nd Platoon, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, cameraman Chris Jackson’s vehicle hit 50 pounds of homemade explosives. The Humvee occupants escaped the flaming vehicle, all but the vehicle commander, Sgt. Courtney Rauch.
The blast severely injured Rauch and knocked him unconscious. Jackson, despite having received shrapnel wounds himself, rushed back to the vehicle, pulled Rauch out and carried him to safety. “Without Chris’ quick thinking and heroic act, I would have lost my life that day,” Rauch said. “Chris forgot about being a reporter that day and became one of our bothers and acted as one of us. Chris went above and beyond his duty.”
Jackson, who now works for CNN/Turner Broadcasting, was presented the Department of the Navy Distinguished Public Service Award, the second highest award given to civilians by the Navy, for his actions. Jackson received the award during a stop in Iraq en route to India. An audience of appreciative Marines was on hand during the ceremony.
Marine Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre, deputy commanding general, Multi-National Corps – Iraq, has a son in the very same company with which Jackson was traveling. Lefebvre, who presented the award on behalf of the Navy, asked his son if all the wonderful things being said about Jackson were true. “I asked him ‘is this the real thing’ and he said ‘yeah dad, this guy’s a hero’,” Lefebvre said. “This was not an everyday action. It came from somewhere deep inside and shows such a level of courage and commitment.”
When told in front of the crowd of digital cameras why he was invited to Al Faw Palace, Jackson blushed. “It goes to show that Marines have a good sense of humor,” he said. “I was told I was coming here for a briefing.”
Jackson, who has been out with service members in combat zones since 2001, said he didn’t think twice about risking his own life to save someone else’s. “I wasn’t thinking. I saw there was trouble and I didn’t even think about grabbing a camera and filming it,” Jackson said. “I just did what anyone else would do if someone was in trouble.”