GySgt Jonathan W. Gifford
Decorated MARSOC gunnies killed in Afghanistan
By Andrew deGrandpre - Marine Corps Times staff writer
Two elite special operations Marines were killed in combat Sunday in northwestern Afghanistan.
Gunnery Sgt. Daniel J. Price, 27, of Holland, Mich., and Gunnery Sgt. Jonathan W. Gifford, 34, of Palm Bay, Fla., died during a morning patrol in Badghis province, a Marine official told Marine Corps Times on Monday.
Both were critical skills operators assigned to Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command. Price belonged to 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion out Camp Pendleton, Calif. Gifford was from 2nd MSOB out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Although they came from separate commands within MARSOC, Price and Gifford were assigned to the same special operations task force in Afghanistan, the Marine official said.
A Purple Heart recipient, Price experienced ample combat over the last several years. He deployed three times each in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to a Marine Corps news release.
On Nov. 10, the Marine Corps’ birthday, Price was awarded a Bronze Star with “V” device for his actions during a 2009, battle in Afghanistan’s Farah province. When the remote weapon on his vehicle was destroyed, he climbed on top to man its MK19 grenade launcher, according to his medal citation. As enemy rounds whipped by, Price stayed put — holding his position for four hours and killing “numerous” insurgents in the process.
Price enlisted in 2003 and attended the Marine Corps’ Basic Reconnaissance Course a year later, according to the Marine Corps’ news release. He was a member of Camp Pendleton’s 1st Recon Battalion before joining MAROC in 2008.
Gifford was just shy of 15 years in the service. A member of the Corps’ force reconnaissance community prior to joining MARSOC, he also completed multiple combat deployments and earned a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with combat “V,” the Marine official said.
It’s not immediately clear how Price and Gifford died. Parts of Badghis province, which borders Turkmenistan, have been marked by violence for the past several years, according to a report published late last year by the Naval Postgraduate School.
Sgt. Justin M. Hansen, also a member of 2nd MSOB, was shot and killed during a house sweep in Badghis province only one week ago. He was on his second deployment to Afghanistan.