MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- In Iraq, leaders have sought the recipe for building a viable police force capable of maintaining the peace and security of a nation torn at the seams. Last year, Capt. Thomas “Tad” Douglas and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Force Reconnaissance Marines cooked up something special by throwing 12 members of the Iraqi Police into combat and ultimately creating one of the finest fighting organizations in Iraq – the 500 member Hilla Special Weapons and Tactics team.
In addition to his work in shaping Hilla SWAT, Douglas was responsible for leading more than 70 unilateral, joint and coalition combat missions against anti-Iraqi forces throughout the northern Babil and southern Baghdad area of operations, earning his second Bronze Star in the process – an award presented to him April 24 by the 24th MEU commanding officer, Col. Ronald Johnson.
“I don’t put a lot of stock in awards, it’s just part of doing the job,” explained Douglas. “There are at least 10 guys in the unit that deserve this more than I do. I would rather have brought everyone back home than win an award.”
All modesty aside, Douglas was cited for operating “under direct enemy fire and resolutely and without concern for his own safety directing his forces against the enemy,” an effort that resulted in the elimination and/or capture of hundreds of insurgent forces.
“I don’t put too much thought into it,” added Douglas. “It’s just an honor being involved with Force Recon.”
Douglas earned his first bronze star by displaying uncommon valor during operations in Iraq that included participation in the mission to rescue Army Private First Class Jessica Lynch. During the high-profile mission that garnered national and international media attention, Douglas and his Marines provided support and over-watch with the quiet professionalism symbolic of force recon Marines.
Although Capt. Douglas doesn’t believe that he’s accomplished anything special or done anymore than the Marines he serves with, his wife, Rina Douglas and five-month-old daughter, Caroline, feel otherwise.
“Daddy’s our hero,” said Rina. “This award is truly special. He always says he’s ‘just doing his job,’ but he does it very well. He tackles every mission with the same energy.”
Douglas is currently an instructor with the Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Forces Special Missions Branch, which has recently been involved in the certification of the current Force Recon Marines that will deploy with the 24th MEU this spring to the European and Central Command area of operations.
“It’s tough not being able to be with them, but they have great leadership from the top on down,” said Douglas. “They’re going to do a great job when they go back. I have no doubt that they’re ready.”
In the end, despite her pride in watching her husband awarded for valor for the second time – an experience she likened to “deja-vu” - his wife and daughter are just happy that Dad isn’t going back to try for his third Bronze Star.
“It puts my stomach in knots and I’m just glad it’s behind us,” added Rina. “We would like him to be stateside for awhile so he can be just like every other Dad, spoiling his kids.”