Korean American Lt. Commander receives Bronze Star Medal
Above: Lt. Cmdr. Cho (right) and Ensign Andrew Petralia (left) stand in front of a security tower built by Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 in Afghanistan. During Cho's 2010 deployment, his battalion executed contingency engineering projects valued at $100 million in the Combined Joint Area of Operation Afghanistan.
Lt. Cmdr. James Cho was recently presented the Bronze Star Medal for his service as Operations Officer for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 in Afghanistan. The Bronze Star is the is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and is awarded to a member of the Armed service for heroic or meritorious achievement or service.
During his 2010 Central Command (CENTCOM) deployment, LCDR Cho’s battalion delivered general and specialized engineering support in the Combined Joint Area of Operation Afghanistan through 23 Details which executed over 45,000 total project mandays of contingency engineering projects valued at $100 million across 25,000 square miles of the battlespace. In total, the unit executed over 400 total projects, 1.6 million square meters of Forward Operating Base expansions, and the logistics sustainment of 10,000 tons of construction material and over 400 pieces of Civil Engineer Support Equipment valued at over $53 million.
Lt. Cmdr. Cho was lauded by superior officers for his exceptional leadership and superior performance which drove his battalion to achieve unprecedented engineering contributions for critical counter-insurgency operations in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan.
“Lt. Cmdr. Cho’s aggressive prosecution of engineering requirements regardless of repeated, prolonged exposure to high enemy threat zones … was nothing short of spectacular,” according to the summary of action.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Lt. Cmdr. Cho immigrated to New York City with his brother and grandmother when he was six years old, to be reunited with his parents who immigrated ahead of him to establish a foundation for the family. His sense of patriotism grew throughout his high school years and by graduation he knew he wanted to serve his country as a member of the military.
“I was inspired,” said Cho, “by the fact that there are men and women who served before me and sacrificed their lives for people they didn’t even know, answering the call that freedom is not free.”
Lt. Cmdr Cho has been a Civil Engineer Corps officer for 14 years and currently serves as the Facility Strategic Planner on the Chief of Naval Operations’ Shore Readiness Division. He has deployed to the Middle East three times. Lt. Cmdr. Cho has served an Individual Augmentee tour as the Program Manager for the Afghanistan National Police Construction Program based out of Kabul, Afghanistan, and has traveled throughout Iraq as the CENTCOM Future Plans Officer for 30th Naval Construction Regiment.
“I owe this award to the men and women of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133, especially the troops who day in and day out, even in the midst of hostile activity around them, flawlessly executed their mission and showed that nothing is impossible,” said Cho. “I am proud and humbled to have served with such great men and women. Without them and their many sacrifices, I wouldn’t be here today.”