GERMANTOWN, Md. — Two U.S. service members killed in Iraq have been identified, including one from Germantown, Md.
Capt. Moises A. Navas, a special operations officer from Germantown, Md., suffered fatal wounds while accompanying Iraqi Security Forces during a mission to eliminate an ISIS stronghold in a mountainous area of north central Iraq. He was 34 years old and assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion.
Navas enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2004. He moved up in the ranks from an administrative clerk and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Inherent Resolve before this current deployment in Iraq.
His commendations include a Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal among others.
He is survived by his wife, daughter and three sons.
The second Marine killed was identified as Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, a critical skills operator from Simi Valley, Calif.
During his 8 years as a Marine Raider, Pongo completed deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device for heroic actions against the enemy in 2013 while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
He is survived by his daughter and parents.
The following statement is released on behalf of the Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer, Col. John Lynch.
"On behalf of the Marine Raider Regiment and all of MARSOC, our most sincere condolences go out to the families of Gunnery Sgt. Pongo and Capt. Navas.
"The loss of these two incredible individuals is being felt across our organization, but it cannot compare to the loss that their families and teammates are experiencing. Both men epitomize what it means to be a Marine Raider. They were intelligent, courageous, and loyal. They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team. They were not just leaders today, they were both on the path to be our organizations leaders in the future.
"They were also family men, adoring husbands and fathers -- Capt. Navas to his wife, daughter, and three young sons, and Gunnery Sgt. Pongo to his little girl.
"Both men were incredibly humble and truly the quiet professionals that define our SOF warriors. Gunnery Sgt. Pongo balanced that with his larger-than-life personality. The command as a whole became witness to his dynamic personality, and love for family, when he brought his mom to this past year’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball ceremony and together they out-danced the rest of us on the dance floor. He also loved going on adventures with his daughter, hiking, camping, and woodworking. He was a MARSOF advanced sniper, a foreign weapons instructor, a combat marksmanship leader, and he was fluent in multiple languages.
"Capt. Navas, who was known to most as 'Mo,' was born in Panama, but grew up in Maryland. In addition to being a phenomenal Marine officer and Raider, he truly was a family man, and cherished his time watching his children play sports.
"He was also a scout sniper, a martial arts instructor, combat diver, and was recently selected for promotion to the rank of major. The hearts of the entire Marine Raider community are with the Pongo and Navas families as we mourn this tremendous loss.
"In times like these, we come together and rely on each other, sharing our burdens and providing strength to those that need it. We will do everything we can to lift up and support our grieving families in order to and honor the incredible lives and the ultimate sacrifices of Gunnery Sgt. Pongo and Capt. Navas."
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