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California mountain to be named after Marine killed in Afghanistan

A California mountain will be named “Sky Point” in honor of a Marine killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., announced that President Trump has signed legislation that names a mountain after Marine Staff Sgt. Sky Mote.

The bill H.R. 381 designates a mountain in the John Muir Wilderness of the Sierra National Forest in California, according to a press release from the congressman.

Staff. Sgt. Sky Mote was killed in Afghanistan on August 10, 2012, after a uniformed Afghan police officer opened fire on the Marine Raiders’ team tactical operation center. Mote was an explosive ordnance disposal Marine deployed with Marine Special Operations Command.

Mote used his body to shield teammates from the attack, taking the brunt of the fire. For his actions that day he was posthumously awarded the nation’s second highest award for combat bravery ― the Navy Cross.

Another teammate, Capt. Matthew Manoukian, also received the Navy Cross posthumously for his heroic actions during that same attack.

The naming of the mountain does “bring some closure to us,” said Russell Mote, Sky’s father.

The process to name the mountain has been in the works for nearly four years, Russell Mote told Marine Corps Times. “I didn’t think it was going to happen.”

After Sky Mote’s funeral in 2012, McClintock told the Marine’s family he wanted to do something to honor him.

“I am going to be pleasantly persistent until you let me do something for Sky,” McClintock had said, according to Russell Mote.

Sky Mote was known as a very humble guy, loyal to his friends and Raider teammates, his father said. The mountain is symbolic of Sky: It is a small mountain in a valley surrounded by other large mountains, like how his friends were always around him, his father said.

There may be a small team reunion later this summer to celebrate the new memorial, but also for his fellow Raider teammates to remember Mote and reflect on other Raiders who have given their lives.

“If you honor one, you honor all,” Russell Mote said.

Since his son’s death in Afghanistan, Russell Mote has been helping with a charity bike race in the Mojave desert called the Mojave Death Race or Ride 430, Operation Hero Project. The proceeds go to benefit veteran charity groups ― a couple years ago the race raised nearly $30,000 for the Marine Raider Foundation.

The race is nearly 300 miles through scorching temperatures, but the race also allows veterans who compete to reflect on their deployments, loss and grief.

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