Citations for two Navy Crosses and more than 100 Silver Star medals awarded secretly to Navy SEALs and a Marine for “extraordinary heroism” in the last 15 years reflect the fierce battles that have been fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to records obtained by USA TODAY.
The Navy decorated the Marine for saving the lives of civilians in Benghazi in September 2012. Several SEALs earned theirs for intense combat in Ramadi, others for rescuing hostages in Afghanistan. The Navy also honored the deadly efficiency of the “American Sniper,” the late SEAL Chris Kyle.
Almost one in five of the military’s most prestigious honors in all the services have been awarded privately since America went to war in 2001 because the missions were classified. The Medal of Honor is the highest commendation, followed by service crosses and the Silver Star. In February, the Pentagon announced plans to review more than 1,000 of the nation’s top awards bestowed since 9/11 to determine if they should be upgraded. The secret Navy Crosses and Silver Stars are among those under review, along with a similar number issued for the Army’s classified commando missions.
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