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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – A Marine who died from a roadside bomb in Afghanistan was awarded the highest honor given to members of the Corps for his heroic actions as he hurled his body into a fellow serviceman and warned the rest of the his squad of the blast.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Tuesday that 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Donald Hogan is "now part of a part of Marine lore along with the great heroes of the Corps" as he presented the fallen hero's parents with the Navy Cross. He said his actions placed him among the "bravest and finest" in the Marines.
Mabus spoke in front of new barracks at Camp Pendleton that will be named after Hogan, who was from nearby San Clemente, Calif. The barracks will house troops wounded in the war and those resting.
There will be enough rooms to house more than 1,000 Marines.
Hogan was killed in 2009 in Helmand Province in Afghanistan while on patrol. The rifleman had volunteered to wear a metal detector that day and help look for explosive devices.
He spotted a kite string on the road go taut in Taliban territory, a sign that a roadside bomb was about to go off. He flew into into action, hurling his body into a fellow Marine and then running to the road to yell a warning to the rest of his squad before the blast killed him.
Hogan had wanted to join the Marine Corps since he was a young boy.
His father, Jim Hogan, said he was always proud of his son for following in the footsteps of his father, a Marine veteran of three wars from World War II to Vietnam. Speaking at the morning ceremony, Hogan thanked the Marine Corps for helping his son fulfill his lifelong dream.
"We will always be grateful," Jim Hogan said.
His wife wiped a tear after Mabus presented her and her husband the award.
Lt. Col. Terry M. Johnson, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, said Hogan's fellow troops described him as having "a heart bigger than life, generous, unwavering commitment toward his fellow Marines, loyal, selfless, and always with a smile."
Marine Corps officials had recommended the Silver Star for Hogan, but Mabus said he decided to honor the fallen Marine's legacy with its highest honor because of his dedication in putting himself before his fellow Marines. His actions humbled and awed his fellow troops, Mabus said.
"Lance Cpl. Hogan made a choice that is unimaginable for most of us," Mabus said. "But it was a choice of a Marine."