CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lindquist was awarded the Army Achievement Medal here Sept. 15, 2004, by Army Maj. Gen. Kathryn Frost, the director for the Army Air Force Exchange Service, for saving two AAFES employees' lives.
The former warehouse chief for the Marine Corps Exchange in Camp Fallujah, was awarded the medal for his quick thinking when the vehicle he was driving encountered three improvised explosive devices on Aug. 1, 2004.
''Everytime I go on a convoy, it's all about business. It only takes a split second to get an IED or small-arms fire,'' said Lindquist, a 31-year-old Fall River, Mass., native.
While on a convoy carrying merchandise from Baghdad International Airport to Camp Fallujah, Lindquist encountered what has almost become an expected event on such supply runs – a series of improvised explosive devices.
As the returning convoy passed the prison in Abu Gharab, Lindquist, who was driving the vehicle, noticed a box in his lane. Feeling something was out of place, he steered the seven-ton truck to the left just as the IED hidden within the box exploded.
''I didn't want to overturn because usually if there is an IED on the right side (of the road), there is another one on the left,'' said Lindquist.
Following the explosion, convoy security checked to confirm everyone's safety. Upon confirmation, the convoy continued. Less than 500 meters further, the convoy encountered what Lindquist had initially suspected: two more IEDs, one on each side of the road. Lindquist kept the vehicle stable and drove through the blasts. He, nor the two employees that rode with him, were harmed. With only a few miles left to Fallujah, the convoy continued until they reached their destination.
Lindquist's calm professionalism under fire ensured the safety of his passengers and cargo. His actions reflect great credit upon both himself and the Marine Corps/AAFES partnership, said Army Col. Shelley A. Richardson, commander of AAFES Europe and Southwest Asia.
Convoys to remote locations by Marines like Lindquist are necessary to ensure everyone, regardless of location, has access to the Marine Corps exchange, according to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Danny Ronan, the officer-in-charge for the Marine Corps Exchanges in Iraq and Merrit Island, Fla., native, describing why Lindquist's job plays a vital role in Iraq.
Such exchanges play an important part in the morale of those Marines who can be out on a mission for weeks, said Ronan, as she described how equally important the stores ran in Iraq are to their counterparts stateside.
When Warrant Officer Anthony I. Cisneros, the officer replacing Ronan and longtime acquaintance of Lindquist, heard what had happened, he was not at all surprised.
''It is not an uncommon thing for Staff Sgt. Lindquist to take the bull by the horns and lead the way,'' said the 29-year-old Riverside, Calif., native. ''It was good to hear that he was still doing the same thing I had known him to do in the past.''
''We have motor transport individuals and military police on the road everyday subjecting themselves to the same type of insurgency that our infantryman are subjected to,'' said Cisneros of the dangers all Marines, regardless of their specialty, face when navigating through Iraq. ''We have to gear up, put our game face on, get on the road, and be highly vigilant in order to protect ourselves.''
His time in Iraq over, Lindquist looks forward to spending time with his wife and three children, who wait for him in Hawaii, and celebrating his promotion to gunnery sergeant in November.
For servicemen conducting convoy operations in Iraq, Lindquist offers a suggestion for the daily drive that could unexpectedly become a deadly situation: ''Take nothing for granted. Plan on getting ambushed, always look for different routes to egress from, and whatever the plan is on the convoy if you get hit, stick with the plan. Don't try and be a hero. Stick with the plan and go with it.''