MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Virginia --
Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Carlos Del Toro, visited Marine Corps Embassy Security Group Headquarters at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., on May 19 to personally thank the Marines with Marine Security Guard (MSG) Detachment Khartoum for their exceptional performance during the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.
The primary role of an MSG is to protect personnel, classified information, and government property at U.S. diplomatic facilities around the globe. When fighting occurred within Sudan between two militant groups on April 15, the Marines continued their daily duties. As the conflict drew nearer and became more aggressive, the Marines received their orders to begin preparation for an evacuation.
Throughout the operation, the Marines continued to stand both of their posts, which are manned 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Additionally, the Marine standing Post One provided command and control for the evacuation and provided real-time updates and information to and from the Chief of Mission and embassy personnel. When the evacuation was completed on April 23, the Marines said the feeling was bittersweet.
“It’s a humble feeling being back in the heart of it all, and it reminds you that the greater mission of MCESG is ongoing and we must continue to support that mission,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Ferrari, the Detachment Commander for Detachment Khartoum. “The detachment is deactivated but not disbanded yet, and I continue to be impressed with my Marines’ ability to remain engaged and take are of one another the same way they did in Khartoum.”
During his visit, Del Toro not only thanked the Marines for their heroism in Sudan but also presented each of them with military decorations. The Detachment Commander, Staff Sgt. Ferrari, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and each of the Watchstanders was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
“The example that you have set protecting the life of the ambassador and the lives of all the people who were at the embassy has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said Del Toro. “I wanted to make sure that before you left this building and head onto other assignments, that I came here today to look you in the eye and say, ‘Thank you.’”
After pinning medals on the chest of each Marine involved in the evacuation, Del Toro turned to the families present and thanked each of them for their own sacrifice in allowing their loved ones to serve in every clime and place. He then gathered with everyone to take several pictures and to celebrate the Marines and their actions.
“It is a great honor and a great privilege to be awarded by the Secretary of the Navy,” said Sgt. Komlan Akli, a Watchstander with Detachment Khartoum. “The detachment did exactly what is expected of U.S. Marines during times of uncertainty and being awarded for that by the SECNAV means a lot to myself and the rest of the detachment.”
The Marines who still have time left to serve on the MSG program have received new assignments and will begin heading back overseas to continue serving at more than 180 diplomatic facilities around the world.