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NEWS | April 24, 2014

The First Australian to Command Marines in Vietnam Receives Bronze Star

By Cpl. James Gulliver Marine Rotational Force Darwin

 Lieutenant Gen. Terry Robling, commanding general, Marine Corps Forces Pacific, visited the Marines of Marine Rotational Force – Darwin in order to present a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device to Brig. Michael Harris during an award ceremony, here, April 22, 2014.

Both Marines and Australian Soldiers with the 1st Brigade, marched onto the field in perfect order and awaited the start of the ceremony.

"The Australian's and the United States share many common interests both as nations and as people," said Gen. Robling. "Today we are here to honor an Australian that served next to us as one of our own."

Harris served as commanding officer of Delta Company, 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. He was the first non-American to lead Marines in combat during the Vietnam War.

"It is a great honor for me to receive this medal today," said Harris. "It represents the hard work, the perseverance and the desire to close with the enemy of all the Marines in Delta Co."

Throughout his speech to the Marines, Harris told stories of his actions in Vietnam and the heroics performed by his Marines.

"The Marines inspired me to perform my mission with the utmost skill," he said. "I knew that being able to lead such a fine group of Marines would be no easy task."

Harris was also presented the title of honorary Marine, a title held by less than 100 people.

"The title "Marine" is never bestowed without just cause," said Gen. Robling. "The fact that so few people have earned this truly represents the saying "the few, the proud, the Marines.""

During his speech Gen. Robling emphasized the relationship between the Marines and Australians who have work together since World War I. He also emphasized the importance of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin to the continuation of this alliance.

The Marines with MRF-D will conduct independent and bilateral training with the Australian Defence Force in the Northern Territory and at existing ADF facilities during the six-month rotation.

General Robling concluded his speech with saying how much of an honor it was to serve next to the Australian Defence Forces.

"Marines rotating here to Darwin will vastly be able to improve their skills working with our capable ally in the Pacific," he said. "We will always be proud to serve next to Australians."

This article was originally published at:

-PACOM: (posted April 24, 2014)-


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