Sierra Nevada mountain feature would be named ‘Sky Point’ under House bill

Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, is seen here in a June 2012 picture.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, is seen here in a June 2012 picture. Courtesy of Tom McClintock

A slain Marine hero from California would join his beloved Sierra Nevada mountains under a House bill approved Monday that designates a prominent feature in the John Muir Wilderness as “Sky Point.”

The new name for the roughly 11,240-foot peak would honor the late Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Sky Mote, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012 while serving as an explosive ordinance disposal technician with the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion.

The House approved on a routine voice vote the bill authored by Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif. The House previously passed the legislation in 2015, but it was never taken up by the Senate.

“It’s a small token of the gratitude of our nation,” McClintock said Monday, adding the renaming serviced an “irredeemable debt to an eternally grieving family.”

The congressional delay since 2015 brings the potential peak renaming closer to standard practice followed by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names, which holds that “a person must be deceased at least five years before a commemorative proposal will be considered.”

Born in Bishop, California, on June 6, 1985, Mote enlisted in the Marine Corps following his 2003 graduation from Union Mine High School in El Dorado. The peak to be named Sky Point is in the center of the Humphreys Basin, near Tomahawk Lake. When Mote was growing up, his family would camp in the region during hunting trips.

In 2014, Mote was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the Marine Corps’ second-highest award for bravery, for his actions in Afghanistan’s Helmand province.

According to Mote’s Navy Cross citation, his unit’s tactical operations center came under automatic small-arms fire from a “rogue Afghan uniformed policeman” attacking from inside the perimeter.

“Working in an adjacent room and unseen by the attacker, Staff Sgt. Mote could have exited the structure to safety,” the citation stated. “He instead grabbed his M4 rifle and entered the operations room, courageously exposing himself to a hail of gunfire in order to protect his fellow Marines.”

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153, @MichaelDoyle10