CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Joshua Bridges, a native of Morganton, North Carolina, and assessments and plans officer with Regional Command (Southwest), was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal during a ceremony aboard Camp Leatherneck, Helmand province, Afghanistan, July 13, 2014.
The 27- year-old graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, during 2010. After attending Officer Candidates School and commissioning as a second lieutenant, he attended The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. There he was assigned his military occupational specialty as an Assault Amphibian Vehicle Officer. Afterward, he attended training aboard Camp Pendleton, California and served with the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.
During Aug. 2013, Bridges transferred to Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan and conducted training in preparation for his current deployment to Helmand province. MEB-A is the final Marine Air-Ground Task Force to lead operations in the region as part of the Operation Enduring Freedom campaign. On Feb. 5, 2014, MEB-A assumed command of RC(SW) under Brig. Gen. Daniel Yoo.
Since then, Bridges has contributed to a variety of RC(SW) planning efforts including preparations for the Apr. 5 and Jun. 14, 2014, Afghan presidential elections and the future transition of full security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces here.
The award citation said that Bridges fulfilled duties normally reserved for more senior officers. He also enhanced operations and mission accomplishment of the executive assessments group and plans section.
“Bridges identified 55 hazards to force and mission, and collected provincial data and generated reports for submission to International Security Assistance Force Joint Command regarding election preparedness and assisted in analyzing command relationships aboard Camps Leatherneck and Bastion as they affected defense in depth and served as deputy of a rehearsal of concept team for the command’s final operation order,” said the citation.
Bridges said the deployment also provided him an opportunity to work with other military forces. “A big challenge while serving under RC(SW) was learning how to effectively work on a coalition staff of U.S., U.K., Danish, Estonian and Georgian, most of whom are field grade officers” said Bridges. “I was afforded interesting work opportunities where I was expected to deliver quality products, one that I am grateful I had the chance to appreciate.”
The award citation ended with, “1st Lt. Bridges’ professionalism, perseverance, and total dedication to duty reflected credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service.”
In addition, he was also awarded the Non-Article 5 NATO medal for service with NATO in relation to the ISAF operation.
After returning to the U.S. later this month, Bridges said he will rejoin the 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion aboard Camp Pendleton and plans on making a trip home to Morganton, N.C., to celebrate his accomplishments with family and friends while on leave.