Handing out the awards during the ceremony, which took place at the Israel Air Force Base at Hatzerim, were Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.
Generals of lesser rank were also on hand to present awards.
Among the honored recipients was Givati Brigade Deputy Commander Eitan Fund, who was awarded the Medal of Courage – Israel's second-highest military honor.
Pond received the high honor for risking his life by single-handedly pursuing the terrorists who kidnapped Lt. Hadar Goldin through a tunnel inside Gaza.
Before the ceremony, Fund said he was very excited, but admitted "there are mixed feelings. This is not a simple event. We must remember our friends that fell [during the Operation]."
"We went down, a group of fighters, to Goldin's location and brought evidence that he was dead sparing [the country] the fear of a kidnapped soldier," Fund recounted.
"It's hard to receive a medal for such a difficult incident. I have difficult with it now, but I hope we'll know how to deal with it."
Fund noted that battalion in which he is serving has become strengthened and that the accolade is not solely his, "but belongs to all of us."