Simi Valley Marine Killed in Raid on ISIS Cave Complex in Iraq

Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo, of Simi Valley, and Capt. Moises A. Navas, of Maryland, died in the operation Sunday in support of Iraq's security forces


A 34-year-old Marine from Simi Valley was one of two service members killed Sunday during a mission to take out an ISIS stronghold in the mountains north central Iraq.

Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo died Sunday while supporting Iraqi security forces in the ISIS stronghold, according to the Department of Defense. Capt. Moises A. Navas, of Maryland, also died in the operation.

The Marines were accompanying Iraqi security forces in a raid on an ISIS stronghold in the mountains of north central Iraq. Both men were assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The joint U.S. -Iraq counter-ISIS operations were restarted in January after they were suspended following a drone strike that killed a senior Iranian commander.

Pongo joined the Marine Corps in 2004. He served for eight years at a Marine Raider with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He earned a Broze Star Medal for heroic actions while deployed in 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Other personal decorations include a Purple Heart, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, two Combat Action Ribbons, the Army Valorous Unit Award, four Good Conduct Medals, two Humanitarian Service Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and four Sea Service Deployment Ribbons.

Gunnery Sgt. Pongo is survived by his daughter and mother.

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