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Inyo native receives high honors from the U.S. Navy

January 20, 2014

Bishop Native Sky Mote was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, one of the highest honors issued to Marines, for his “extraordinary heroism” during the August 2012 attack in Afghanistan that claimed his life. Photo courtesy Russ Mote

Bishop native Sky Mote, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Marines, was posthumously awarded one of the Marine Corps highest honor, the Navy Cross, last week for his heroic actions and sacrifice in Afghanistan on Aug. 10, 2012.
According to a press release issued by the U.S. Marine Corps, Mote, 27, an explosive ordnance disposal technician, was wounded during an “insider attack” . Despite his wounds, he “exposed himself to more gunfire in an attempt to draw attention away from his fellow Marines and distract the shooter.”
The Navy Cross is awarded to individuals who “distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism” in the line of duty.
Mote was one of two Marines who received the posthumous honor last weekend. The second award was presented to the family of Capt. Matthew Manoukian.
Mote and Manoukian were assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion in support of Operating Enduring Freedom when they came under hostile fire from an Afghan police officer inside their tactical operations center in Helmand province.
According to the U.S. Navy, when the enemy began attacking, Mote was in an adjacent room, unseen by the attacker, and could have escaped the fighting undetected. “He instead grabbed his M4 rifle and entered the operations room, courageously exposing himself to a hail of gunfire in order to protect his fellow Marines.
“In his final act of bravery, (Mote) boldly remained in the open and engaged the shooter, now less than five meters in front of him,” a press release states. “He courageously pressed the assault on the enemy until he received further wounds and fell mortally wounded.”
The press release goes on to state that “Mote’s heroic and selfless actions” stopped the enemy assault on his teammates, enabling their escape, which ultimately forced the enemy to withdraw.
“Mote’s selfless act safeguarded his comrades from being killed or injured,” press release states.
According to news reports of the incident, the shooter escaped in the fire fight.
Mote was born in Bishop to parents Russell Mote and Cindy Stueben. After his parents divorced, he moved to El Dorado with his father and his father’s wife, Marcia Mote.
According to Russ Mote, a teacher who had summers off and retained a love for the Sierra, “summers were spent in the Bishop area” working on various local ranches and with a number of pack stations.
Mote said several Inyo County locals headed to Camp Pendleton last weekend to honor Sky and his family as the award was presented.
Russ said those who attended included Tawni and Pat Tatum of Tatum Ranch, Lee and Jennifer Roeser of McGee Creek Pack Station and Kyle, Barbara and Ken Cluff of Cardinal Village.
The Navy Cross is the second-highest award for valor that a Marine can receive; just below the Medal of Honor. It is rarely given out, and must be approved by the Secretary of the Navy before being awarded.
Only 16 Marines, including Mote and Manoukian, have received the Navy Cross for actions undertaken during Operation Enduring Freedom. In the seven-year history of Marine Special Operations Command, only two other Marines attached to the Marine Corps Special Operations Command have received the award, according to the Marine Corps.
Major Gen. Mark Clark, the commander of the Marine Corps Special Operations Command, presented the awards to the families of Manoukian and Mote during the ceremony last weekend.

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