Bayonne resident Morris Ransom, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps, does not claim that military heroism runs in his blood – even though he served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Yet now, there’s even more evidence of patriotism in the family, since Ransom’s grandson, Staff Sergeant Jonathon P. Brooks, was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in combat in Afghanistan recently.
Ransom said he is very proud of his grandson.
“He’s doing what he thinks is right,” Ransom said.
While still serving in Afghanistan, Brooks received the medal from Vice President Richard Cheney at Bagram Airfield on Dec. 19.
He got the award for action in May, when he prevented his outpost from being overrun by enemy combatants.
Brooks also has been cited for his positive contributions during his service in northern Iraq in 2003 where he contributed to the combat and civil operations.
Grateful to troops
During the ceremony in Afghanistan, Cheney expressed his gratitude to the troops for their sacrifices.
“We’re proud of you, we’re grateful for your service, and we’re behind you 100 percent,” Cheney told the troops during the ceremony.
While Brooks does not live in Bayonne, many of his family members do. His grandfather has been a resident of Bayonne since 1968.
“I don’t offer my grandson any advice,” he said. “What he’s done, he’s done his own.”
During a three-week operation last May in the Bermel District of Afghanistan, Brooks helped prevent his outpost from being overrun after he led an operation to infiltrate enemy ground to set up the outpost. During a preliminary attack, he fooled the enemy into thinking the weakest defended point of the outpost was more strongly defended than it was, forcing the enemy to attack a strong position on the other side. Later, when the outpost was attacked, he moved his mortar, firing it from an alternative position to divert the enemy’s fire.
“Brook’s heroic actions on May 29-30, 2005 helped to defeat the offense and prevented the [enemy] from overrunning both the company command post and blocking
position, even though he had only one 60 mm mortar tube at his disposal,” the Bronze Star background material said. Prior to this, Brooks served in combat operations in northern Iraq in 2003, for which he received the United States Army Citation Medal for his leadership abilities and other duties.
Brooks, according to the report that accompanies the award, is one of the most versatile and multitalented non-commissioned officers in his company. He personally led his mortar section in executing over 15 harassment and interdiction fire missions through the operation area, significantly reducing the number of attacks on coalition forces. During this time, he managed to get prisoners transferred while still providing fire support.
As the company’s field ordering officer, he managed to improve his unit through acquisition of materials and quality of life improvements. He also recruited the largest number of translators of any company in northern Iraq. Under his watch, he also established a driver’s training program that increased the number of drivers in the company by 250 percent.
On March 26, 2003, Brooks parachuted as part of one of the largest operations in northern Iraq. His unit occupied the town of Altun Kapri, and he along with others helped established the city’s first sports program and activity center for local kids.
While in Kirkuk, Iraq, Brooks was put in charge of processing prisoners and oversaw the processing of more than 1,900 prisoners.
“He got things organized in Iraq,” Ransom said. “They took over a village, straightened things out, then got involved with the children there, starting a sports program. He was constantly asking that things get sent there from the United States to help. He’s doing the same in Afghanistan.”
Although never part of a combat operation in any of the conflicts he served, Ransom said he felt particularly proud of his grandson for the things he accomplished.
Proud of grandson
Ransom moved to Bayonne in 1968 where he served as part of a transport battalion then stationed in Port Newark.
“I didn’t find out about what my grandson did until he had already gone to Iraq and came back,” he said. “Then he went to Afghanistan.”
Brooks is scheduled to return to the United States in February.
“I’m 82 years old,” Ransom said. “I didn’t give him any advice. He’s there and I hope he gets home safely.”
He said Brooks did what he did out of his own volition. “My grandson thought it was something that had to be done,” Ransom said. “Terrorism in the world has to be stopped. We can’t let it come to us; it has to be stopped where it is. If this means going to the Middle East, then that’s what my grandson has done. Part of this is to help bring rights for everybody there.”
Contact Al Sullivan at email@example.com