Former corpsman receives Silver Star for saving Marine

September 23, 2014
Jonathan Kong, 25, received a Silver Star at Friday. (Courtesy of Jonathan Kong)

Jonathan Kong, 25, received a Silver Star at Camp Pendleton Friday. (Minjae Song/Courtesy of Jonathan Kong)

By Tae Hong

Jonathan “Doc” Kong, 25, received a Silver Star Friday for an act of heroism not oft heard of on the front lines in Afghanistan.

Kong, a petty officer second-class, pulled a fallen Marine to safety in the midst Taliban gunfire on June 13, 2011 while he was a hospital corpsman assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment.

The Silver Star is the military’s third-highest honor for combat valor.

(Courtesy of Jonathan Kong)

(Minjae Song/Courtesy of Jonathan Kong)

According to Kong’s Silver Star citation, he rushed to Marine Cpl. Michael Dawers, who was shot in the chest, and provided “life-saving aid” while dodging bullets.

Kong said he and Dawers were close friends. When he saw him go down, his body reacted before he could think.

“When I saw him get hit, I instinctively went to him,” Kong recalled. The corporal was wriggling on the ground when he got there.

Kong remembers the first words Dawers said to him as he treated the bullet wound, all the while assuring the corporal that everything would be fine:

“Doc, you just saved my life.”

His mother, whom he spoke to on the phone while on tour, had had no idea what he had been through. Kong told her things were “quiet, really boring,” finding it difficult to explain exactly what had happened.

When she received word of the honor he was to receive, she was surprised.

“My mom was super proud,” Kong said.

Born and raised in San Jose, Calif., Kong joined the Navy after graduating high school.

Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson awarded the Star to Kong at Camp Pendleton. Kong left the Navy after six years in 2013 to pursue a career in emergency medicine; he currently attends De Anza Community College.