Sergeant Michael E. Bitz, USMC
Silver Star (Awarded Posthumously) — For Actions During Operation Iraqi Freedom
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Michael E. Bitz, Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as Crew Chief and Assistant Section Leader, Third Assault Amphibian Vehicle Section, Company C, First Battalion, Second Marines, Task Force TARAWA, FIRST Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 23 March 2003. During the attack on An Nasiriyah, Iraq, Sergeant Bitz’s vehicle sustained a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade, setting it on fire. Aware that there were several casualties on board, he maneuvered his vehicle to the company’s defensive perimeter. He immediately assisted in moving the wounded to the casualty collection point. Without an amphibious assault vehicle to command and under unrelenting enemy small-arms and artillery fire, he picked up his rifle and joined a squad of the Third Platoon in a deliberate assault. His efforts substantially aided the platoon and, after the squad sustained several casualties, Sergeant Bitz ignored his own wounds and helped in loading the others onto an evacuation vehicle. Despite receiving unrelenting fire, Sergeant Bitz mounted a different vehicle to provide security for the casualties. While escorting the wounded during movement, Sergeant Bitz was mortally wounded by enemy fire when his vehicle sustained a direct hit from a rocket-propelled grenade. By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Sergeant Bitz reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest tradition of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.