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Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos awarded the Bronze Star Medal to Georgian Armed Forces Lt. Col. Alexander Tugushi at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center May 24.

The Bronze Star is the fourth-highest combat award of the U.S. Armed Forces and the ninth highest military award, including both combat and non-combat awards, in the order of precedence of U.S. military decorations. Tugushi, a battalion commander of the Georgian forces, stationed with U.S. Marines in Helmand Province in Afghanistan, was injured by a roadside bomb December 2011. He lost both legs and is currently recovering at Walter Reed Bethesda.

Reading from the citation accompanying the Bronze Star Medal, the Marine Corps Commandant stated, "The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Bronze Star to [Lt. Col.] Alexander Tugushi for heroic service in connection with combat operations against the enemy as a battalion commander." Tugushi is credited with "providing invaluable combat leadership" while exposing himself to constant combat fire and improvised explosive devices to direct maneuvers on the battlefield.

The citation also stated Tugushi's "courageous actions resonated throughout his battalion, instilling confidence and aggressiveness in engaging the enemy, persevering through language barriers and equipment shortfalls."

Amos said Tugushi's diligent actions "kept intense pressure on the enemy."

In a letter to his battalion, read by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta during the secretary's visit to Afghanistan in March, Tugushi wrote, "It is a great honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with the United States in one of the most troubled regions of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, I could not complete my service with you, but I am proud of all of you -- those who have fallen and those who continue to serve. You are all heroes who will go down in Georgian history."

Georgia has contributed troops to NATO's International Security Assistance Force mission since 2004 and currently has more than 900 service members in Afghanistan, mostly in Regional Command Capital and Regional Command South, according to Department of Defense officials.

Awarded by the Secretary of a military department, the Bronze Star Medal may be granted to any person who, while serving in any capacity in or with the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard of the United States distinguishes himself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.