Gov. Cooper orders flags lowered in honor of Camp Lejeune Marines killed in Iraq


JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) The Department of Defense announced the death of two Marines who were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

The following Marines died March 8 while supporting Iraqi Security Forces in north-central Iraq:

  • 34-year-old Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo of Simi Valley, California
  • 34-year-old Capt. Moises A. Navas, 34, of Germantown, Maryland

Both Marines were assigned to 2nd Marine Raider Battalion, Marine Forces Special Operations Command, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The following statement is released on behalf of the Marine Raider Regiment Commanding Officer, Col. John Lynch:

“On behalf of the Marine Raider Regiment and all of MARSOC, our most sincere condolences go out to the families of Gunnery Sgt. Pongo and Capt. Navas. The loss of these two incredible individuals is being felt across our organization, but it cannot compare to the loss that their families and teammates are experiencing. Both men epitomize what it means to be a Marine Raider. They were intelligent, courageous, and loyal. They were dedicated leaders, true professionals in their craft, and willing to go above and beyond for the mission and their team. They were not just leaders today, they were both on the path to be our organization’s leaders in the future. They were also family men, adoring husbands, and fathers…Capt. Navas to his wife, daughter, and three young sons, and Gunnery Sgt. Pongo to his little girl. Both men were incredibly humble and truly the quiet professionals that define our SOF warriors. Gunnery Sgt. Pongo balanced that with his larger-than-life personality. The command as a whole became witness to his dynamic personality, and love for family, when he brought his mom to this past year’s Marine Corps Birthday Ball ceremony and together they out-danced the rest of us on the dance floor. He also loved going on adventures with his daughter, hiking, camping, and woodworking. He was a MARSOF advanced sniper, a foreign weapons instructor, a combat marksmanship leader, and he was fluent in multiple languages. Capt. Navas, who was known to most as “Mo”, was born in Panama but grew up in Maryland. In addition to being a phenomenal Marine officer and Raider, he truly was a family man and cherished his time watching his children play sports. He was also a scout sniper, a martial arts instructor, a combat diver, and was recently selected for promotion to the rank of Major. The hearts of the entire Marine Raider community are with the Pongo and Navas families as we mourn this tremendous loss. In times like these, we come together and rely on each other, sharing our burdens and providing strength to those that need it. We will do everything we can to lift up and support our grieving families in order to honor the incredible lives and the ultimate sacrifices of Gunnery Sgt. Pongo and Capt. Navas.”

The incident is under investigation.

Congressman Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03) provided a statement:

“My thoughts and prayers are with the family and loved ones of Gunnery Sgt. Diego Pongo and Capt. Moises Navas. While we can become distracted by issues we have at home like Coronavirus, we absolutely cannot forget the immense sacrifices our service members continue to make abroad. The deaths of these two brave Marines are a somber reminder that our service members and their families sacrifice so much for us each and every day, no matter the circumstances, so we can live in peace and freedom,” said Murphy.

Murphy is the U.S. Representative for Camp Lejeune.

Governor Roy Cooper ordered all United States and North Carolina flags at state facilities to be lowered to half-staff beginning Tuesday.

In tribute, flags are to remain at half-staff through sunset on Sunday.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that two Camp Lejeune Marines lost their lives in service to our country on Sunday. I am grateful for Capt. Moises A. Navas and Gunnery Sgt. Diego D. Pongo’s courage and our thoughts are with their loved ones,” said Cooper.

As a show of respect, individuals, businesses, schools, municipalities, counties and other government subdivisions are encouraged to fly the flag at half-staff for the duration of time indicated.

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