Two Marines Are First to Receive Achievement Medal With ‘Remote’ Devices

In January last year the Department of Defense created a new medal to signify a technological achievement during battle. The new Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals have an “R” on the decoration to indicate that the soldier or marine receiving the award used remote technology to significantly impact combat operations. The awarded has never been given out until now.

Marine Sgts. Ethan Mintus and Joseph Latsch are the first service members to have the award bestowed upon them. On Dec 11, both marines received the award for their expert capabilities providing support via UAV, according to

The military and the marines who are assigned to Aerial Squadron 3, an unmanned pilot squadron, did not divulge much information about the mission or country they were in during the operation.

In a press release, Mintus only stated that he had a part in bringing down a high valued individual. “We had a couple of weeks of planning on a high value individual (HVI) in the area. We were using our aircraft as an indirect fires spotting asset.”

Latsch commented, “A ‘Spoke Operation’ is to extend from our launch and recovery site,” he said. “Within 48 hours of touching down on the Spoke site we were in support of the joint task force commander from the friendly foreign military forces of the host country. … We were trying to track enemy targets in order to allow allied aircraft to attack targets with more accuracy. During the time I spent in country, the detachment I was part of played a critical role in supporting our allies on the ground during combat operations.”

Lt. Col. Kenneth Phelps, VMU-3 commanding officer praised the work of the two marines in a press release and stated: “This award demonstrates the impact of using a UAS during combat operations from a remote location,” he said. “This is very important to the VMU’s and individuals that fly unmanned aircraft because we’re often supporting missions from afar while still having a significant impact on those operations.”

UAV missions can normally be controlled from anywhere around the world and have become increasingly used to reduce the number of pilot casualties.