Author Topic: Our Troops in Action  (Read 164304 times)


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #50 on: February 22, 2008, 09:50:12 AM »
Profiles of valor: USAF Tech. Sgt. Sudlow
United States Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Sudlow of Pandora, Ohio, toured in Iraq leading the 424th Medium Truck Detachment on supply convoys that logged more than 434,000 miles on some of the world’s most dangerous roads. The cargo in Sudlow’s convoys allowed Coalition forces to maintain their operational tempo and complete their respective missions. Despite the constant threat of IEDs and car bombs, Sudlow and Detachment 424 escorted 4,680 tractor-trailers and protected 2,300 foreign-national drivers. By taking the initiative to upgrade the convoy vehicles under his command with “Go-Lights” and sirens, Sudlow substantially increased the safety of his men and their chances of success. Sudlow also helped capture a group of thieves who had stolen military and civilian equipment from his convoy. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the military’s fourth-highest combat award.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #51 on: March 07, 2008, 10:43:18 AM »
My stomach was torn open... so I tucked my shirt in and kept shooting: Amazing stories of the selfless heroes of Afghanistan

They all made a pact before they went to war.

Whatever happened to them in Afghanistan no one - dead or alive - would be left behind.  One night in Helmand Province, that pledge was put to the test.  In a terrifying split second, the close-knit group from one of the Army's most battle-scarred units came under fire from a hail of Taliban bullets and rocket-powered grenades.  Four men were hit and several others temporarily blinded by phosphorus. Their screams of pain cut through the darkness as the ambushed platoon was pinned down by gunfire from two sides.  But the men of 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment knew precisely what they had to do.

And today the extraordinary heroism which allowed the young soldiers to keep to their pledge at any cost can be revealed as they are awarded some of the highest military honours.  The men repeatedly braved enemy fire to rescue their injured and fatally wounded comrades from the hands of the Taliban.  Private Luke Cole, 22, carried on fighting after half his thigh bone was blown away.  When another bullet ripped open his stomach, he simply tucked his shirt in tighter "to hold everything in" - and carried on keeping the enemy at bay until back-up arrived.  Sergeant Craig Brelsford, 25, continued to command his men long after he was critically wounded - and right up to the moment he died.  In a singularly selfless act, he ran to put his body between the enemy and his wounded comrades.  It protected them from Taliban gunfire, but cost him his life.  And the 25-year-old platoon commander, Lieutenant Simon Cupples, led a rescue party into the killing zone to carry the injured to safety and recover the dead - again and again and again.

Their astonishing courage - and that of scores of other British servicemen and women serving in Afghanistan and Iraq - is marked today with a raft of 184 awards.  They include the biggest batch of medals since fighting began in Afghanistan nearly seven years ago - a reflection not just of the ferocity of the conflict, but of the conspicuous bravery of British troops.  The ambush near the frontline town of Garmsir underlined the extreme danger that troops face daily in what has turned into a bloody and difficult war. 
It played out into a six-hour pitched battle as both sides poured in reinforcements. But true to the pact, Lt Cupples and his men refused to withdraw until the bodies of two fallen comrades were recovered.

Telling their families back home that no one knew what happened to them, he decided, was "simply not an option".  His valour and dedication is recognised with the award of a Conspicuous Gallantry Cross - the highest bravery medal after the Victoria Cross.

Yesterday he told the remarkable story of that night last September.

The young officer, now a captain, recalled how his men were advancing under cover of darkness when they came under devastating fire from a Taliban trench just 20 yards away, and then from other enemy positions.

"I could tell we had taken serious casualties." he said. "There was screaming from the men around me. Because we were so close to the enemy it was very difficult to withdraw and regroup, but we couldn't leave the casualties.  It was asking a lot for the blokes to run forward into enemy fire like that.  But they did it because their mates were out there. When you live and serve with your men like that it creates a very special bond. You would do anything for those guys. That's what drove the soldiers forward."

Captain Cupples, from Derbyshire, who married his sweetheart, Louise, shortly before deploying to Afghanistan, is due to return with his unit next year.  Also involved in the September firefight was Private Cole, from Wolverhampton, who is awarded the Military Cross.  A Taliban bullet smashed into his right thigh in the first few seconds of the battle, shattering five inches of bone. As he tried to crawl to safety he was shot through the stomach and left hip.  Not realising how badly hurt he was, he managed to drag himself to a badly-wounded friend and give first aid - saving his life - before grabbing his rifle and firing almost 200 rounds at enemy positions to help cover the withdrawal.

"The pain didn't hit me at the time," he said. "I thought it was a flesh wound. But I looked down and it was a mess, to be honest. I knew it was serious but I thought, 'This can't be the way I go out'. So I carried on.  I could see muzzle flashes of the enemy weapons in a ditch behind some trees so I kept shooting and gave my mate first aid when I could.  Then I got shot again. I looked at my stomach and it was cut open, so I tucked my shirt in to keep it together and kept on firing until more lads from the platoon arrived.  I only realised how bad it was when they finally dragged me off into cover."

Medics dug out the bullet from his thigh and he now keeps it in his bedroom at home. Sergeant Brelsford, from Nottingham, who was only days away from his 26th birthday when he died, is also remembered with a posthumous Military Cross.

He was described as "an extremely professional soldier" who demonstrated calm leadership under pressure and "incredible bravery in the face of the enemy". He was killed as he led his men through heavy fire in a successful operation to bring back the body of Private Johan Botha.

General David Richards, formerly Britain's top commander in Afghanistan, congratulated the decorated soldiers at a ceremony yesterday.

"It doesn't surprise me that there is such a haul of medals," he said. "It is the toughest fighting we have seen since Korea half a century ago ... a reflection of the tenacity of our soldiers, and of the enemy.  All these men fully deserve their recognition, but we should remember it is always representative of many others who also showed immense bravery."

Staff Sergeant James Wadsworth

Staff Sergeant James Wadsworth of the Royal Logistics Corps successfully defused the largest roadside bomb ever found in southern Iraq - while his fellow-soldiers fought a gun battle against local insurgents trying to overrun the site.  He is today awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for his 'extraordinary, selfless courage.'  The massive bomb containing around 120lb of explosives was spotted buried beneath a pavement opposite a hospital in the centre of Basra last July, ready to flatten the area and cause untold carnage when a British convoy passed.

Staff Sgt Wadsworth, 29, from Cambridge, said: "Normally you would spend three or four hours dealing with a device like that but we were under fire in the city centre. The greatest danger is spending time on the ground. I made it safe in 27 minutes. We only realised how big it was when we came to move it.

"I remember it was 55 degrees in the shade. Our unit was so busy we hadn't slept for days.  I haven't really told my wife about what I did. You just get on with the job."

Lance Corporal Donald Campbell

Lance Corporal Donald Campbell, of the Royal Corps of Engineers is awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for driving an unarmoured and unprotected vehicle into an enemy killing zone "whilst under very intense, accurate fire for a considerable amount of time" - to help bridge a water-filled ditch which was holding up an advance in Helmand Province.

The 26-year-old from the Scottish island of Benbecula, moved his 'front loader' vehicle towards the enemy, offering a huge and vulnerable target, then climbed out of the cab to undo straps so that he could drop a 'fascine' - a huge bundle of pipes - into the ditch allowing armoured vehicles to cross.  He refused to seek cover even when bullets, rocket propelled grenades and mortar fire shattered the windows of the cab and badly damaged the vehicle, missing him by inches.

He said: "My folks are really happy about the award, but I don't think they quite appreciate what the medal means yet."

Private Paul Willmott

Private Paul Willmott, 21, receives the Conspicuous Gallantry Cross for taking command of his unit during a battle when his sergeant was shot dead in Afghanistan last year. The young private from the Mercian Regiment watched as a Taliban sniper killed Lance Corporal Paul Sandford near the town of Gereshk, leaving the unit leaderless.  Although other soldiers were more senior he assumed command, laying down suppressing fire as they withdrew, and then stayed to drag his fallen comrade's body to safety. 
Two weeks later he suffered severe head injuries from a rocket propelled grenade, but insisted on returning to his unit after a week of treatment rather than flying home to Britain.

"We were undermanned," he said. "We were down to 13 blokes in our platoon and needed every soldier available, so I asked to go back."

Captain Ruth Earl

Captain Ruth Earl is awarded an MBE for her dogged determination to keep British troops' vehicles and equipment fit for battle, commanding a dusty workshop in the deserts of Afghanistan. The 34-year-old Cambridge science graduate, who was a part-time TA reservist before joining up as a regular officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, spent six months working 18-hour days in the 'brutal summer heat' of Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, according to her citation.  She commanded 150 men tasked with keeping essential weapons and combat vehicles in working order in the punishing surroundings of the Afghan desert.

"Despite her junior years and experience, she sustained operations in this theatre in a way that few others could match," the citation reads.

Yesterday married officer from Stoke-on-Trent said she was left 'speechless' by news of her award.


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DSC Awarded
« Reply #52 on: May 09, 2008, 09:30:11 AM »
Bragg Soldier Awarded DSC
May 01, 2008
Associated Press
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - A Special Forces Soldier who crawled 200 feet while being fired upon to save a wounded colleague, then led a group of besieged Soldiers to safety, received the Army's second-highest award for valor April 30.   Master Sgt. Brendan O'Connor received the Distinguished Service Cross in a ceremony April 30 at Fort Bragg for his actions in Afghanistan. The award is second in achievement only to the Medal of Honor.

"He made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to get to our wounded Soldiers," said Maj. Sheffield Ford, the team's commander during the June 2006 battle in southern Afghanistan.

O'Connor, 47, doesn't believe he is a hero. He said that police officers and firefighters are courageous every day and that he was only completing his mission.

"I am being recognized for a moment of courage," said O'Connor, whose wife and four children attended the ceremony. "I firmly believe other Soldiers in my place would have done the same thing."

With his Special Forces team surrounded by Taliban fighters, O'Connor volunteered to lead a relief force to rescue two wounded colleagues. He got to the edge of a field, but intense Taliban machine-gun fire made him turn back. After shedding his body armor so he could press himself flat in a ditch, he crawled the last 200 feet to the wounded Soldiers. Taliban fire was so close that it sheared off the blades of tall grass around the ditch as he crawled. Finally reaching the two wounded Soldiers, he stabilized them and led the relief force back to safety.

Admiral Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, and Lt. Gen. Robert W. Wagner, commanding general of the Army Special Operations Command, presented the award to O'Connor.

Olson, who recounted the battle in his speech, described O'Connor's actions as legendary.

"Master Sgt. O'Connor exemplifies the spirit and ethos of these warriors," Olson said. "We stand in quiet awe and in the deepest admiration."

The ceremony marked only the second time the award has been presented to a Soldier for actions in Afghanistan.

O'Connor is assigned to the 7th Special Forces Group. The unit is based at Fort Bragg, home to the Army's Special Operations Command and the 82nd Airborne Division.

© Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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If I die before you wake
« Reply #53 on: May 15, 2008, 02:50:51 PM »


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #54 on: May 21, 2008, 02:16:25 PM »
Getting one's mind right heading out is a part of action too:


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Ross McGinnis RIP
« Reply #55 on: June 02, 2008, 10:31:21 PM »
A Man in Full
June 3, 2008; Page A20
Next week on Flag Day, Army Private First Class Ross McGinnis would have turned 21 years old. Yesterday, President Bush presented his family with a posthumous Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for courage in combat. It was the fourth time the Medal has been awarded for those who have served in Iraq.

Associated Press Photo/Family photo via The Oil City Derrick 
Private First Class Ross Andrew McGinnis
In the gunner's hatch of a Humvee driving through Baghdad on December 4, 2006, Private McGinnis saw a grenade fly through the hatch, rolling to where it could have injured the four other soldiers inside. In easy position to leap and save himself, McGinnis instead jumped to cover the grenade with his body to shield his comrades.

The four men he saved were all at the White House yesterday to pay their respects. They and his parents, Thomas and Romayne McGinnis, knew Ross as one who, at 137 pounds and six feet tall, had barely outgrown his boyhood when he joined the Army on his 17th birthday, the first day he was eligible to enlist. The Knox, Pennsylvania native was known not to take things too seriously, the soldiers said – and yet in an instant he displayed the self-sacrifice that defines heroism in battle across generations. Although he didn't grow while he was in the Army, "he seemed to stand a lot taller," his father said. "He was a man."

All of America's men and women in uniform today are volunteers, and they have answered the call knowing they may be put in harm's way. "Supporting the troops" has become a mantra in our politics, but the true heroism of our soldiers goes beyond the slogans and politics to countless individual acts of courage under fire. At the moment it mattered, in a war worth fighting, Ross McGinnis honored America's finest traditions and our own better natures.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds, plus video commentary, on Opinion Journal.

And add your comments to the Opinion


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #56 on: June 24, 2008, 02:19:42 AM »
Capt. Ford's Drive To Victory In Afghanistan
By SEAN HIGGINS | Posted Friday, January 18, 2008 4:30 PM PT

Capt. Sheffield F. Ford III's mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, sounded simple enough. It just wasn't easy.

"The specific goal was to re-establish order to a certain area," Ford, 36, said matter-of-factly during a phone interview from Fort Bragg, N.C., last month.

"Re-establish order" meant "drive out the Taliban." His forces would push them out of three villages.

Sheffield Ford poses near Afghanistan's Kajaki Dam in May 2006, a month before the bloody battle against terrorists led to his receiving a Silver Star.
The Taliban weren't going anywhere without a fight.

On June 23, 2006, Ford led his Army Special Forces unit and a contingent of Afghan soldiers in what was dubbed Operation Kaika.

It turned out to be a pitched, 2 1/2-day battle against a group of Islamist radicals vastly larger than the Americans had expected.

The coalition forces totaled 72 men. The Taliban had more than 200. At times Ford's men were surrounded on four sides. At other times the fight was so close, the enemy was yards away. "We were expecting some resistance, but not of that nature," Ford recalled. "They basically laid siege to us."

Despite the danger, chaos, exhaustion and fear, Ford led the coalition forces to a lopsided victory.

The battle claimed the lives of an estimated 125 terrorists and just five coalition soldiers: two Americans and three Afghan interpreters.

It was one of the largest battles in Afghanistan since the U.S. invasion of 2001. Last fall, Ford was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry.

"Capt. Ford's courageous actions and determined leadership in the face of an overwhelming attack by a well-armed and determined enemy force prevented the destruction of his circled detachment," reads the narrative accompanying the award.

It concludes: "His gallantry, dedication to duty and selfless sacrifice exemplified the warrior ethos."

Ford is a native of Dixon, Calif., a farming community near Sacramento. He joined the Army at age 17, eventually becoming a member of the elite Special Forces.

That took him to Afghanistan's Panjawi district in 2006. It's among the country's remotest places — where people live in mud huts and drive on nearly impassible roads.

It is also one of the most contested regions in that country. "It's just a constant battle there," Ford said.

Operation Kaika began because the Taliban were moving into farming villages. The terrorists gave villagers an ultimatum: Leave or support us. It was the middle of harvest season, and the locals couldn't afford to lose their grape crops.

Coalition troops intended to sweep in and roust the Taliban with a show of superior force. Afghan policemen would later guard against the Taliban's return.

The first part of the plan hit a firewall. The Taliban hit back hard against Ford's men. The terrorists had heavy weapons and sophisticated communications. Ford later learned that a senior Taliban commander was leading the attack.

It was like nothing the 18-year Army veteran had encountered. The Taliban in that region rarely attacked in that way.

The battle over the three days included three firefights totaling 17 hours of hard fighting.

The valor award's narrative reports that during the first fight, Ford led the attack from an exposed vehicle's turret gun: "Under an extraordinary volume of small arms, machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade fire, he remained in the exposed turret, ignoring the strikes of bullets and grenade fragments around him, accurately and calmly firing into the Taliban assault."

He did this while coordinating the rest of the defense and reporting its status to headquarters.

Ford fired from the exposed turret again the second day after the Taliban targeted a follow-up assault.

When the Taliban realized it outnumbered the coalition forces, other jihadists entered the fray. They were convinced they had the Americans cornered. "They were yelling and cursing at us, saying this time they were going to capture us," Ford recalled. "They told the Afghan soldiers to give up and leave."

He could call in air support, but the Taliban pressed in too closely. Ford and his men ran the risk of having themselves bombed.

An immediate risk was the perimeter. At one point only a three-foot-high wall separated some allied forces from the Taliban.

Coalitions troops were so desperate, they called in Afghan police for backup. The terrorists countered by ambushing the cops, who never made it to the coalition's position.

"That was how we knew we were surrounded," Ford said.

Again he maintained calm, coordinating the counterattack and ensuring that the defenders held the perimeter. Instead of hunkering down, they attacked the enemy. That helped them regain the initiative and push the Taliban back.

Through it all, said Ford, he was "most definitely" scared but refused to get rattled. He focused on protecting his men. He mostly succeeded, yet his master sergeant, Thomas Maholic, didn't make it.

"Anybody who would say they don't feel fear or get scared during such a battle, well, I couldn't believe them," Ford said. "With all emotions, it is how you control it and how you focus on what you are going through so you can have a positive outcome."

Ford says a major part of the mission's success was his team's communications. Yes, firepower, high-tech equipment, bravery and the air support that eventually came were crucial. But they would've been wasted if his forces couldn't coordinate counterattacks.

Communications involved more than making sure everybody received orders. The troops had to know what those orders were.

Confusion could have reigned, since only a dozen of Ford's men were American. The rest were Afghans, most of whom didn't speak English. The language barrier posed a serious danger.

That's why three of the coalition forces killed were interpreters. They had to be right there in the thick of the battle.

"Each one of the personnel on the (Special Forces) team has to be able to have those leadership capabilities in order to command their element of the indigenous (Afghan) forces," Ford explained. "So really it was the whole team coming together that made it successful and allowed us to survive."

Also key was bonding with the Afghan troops. The Americans trained with them constantly. They ate with them and struck up friendships to help build mutual respect.

"There's a term we use for soldiers who do a really good job: He's a fire-and-forget kind of guy," Ford said. "That means I can tell the guy the end state of what I want to be done and turn around and attend to other things because I know that it is going to get done."

That is the way the Afghan force was, he says. Despite the Taliban's threats, the local troops stuck by the Americans throughout the battle.

In addition to Ford, two other Americans, including Maholic, received the Silver Star for their actions in the battle. Three more received the Bronze Star.

The Special Forces commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Csrnko, during the medal ceremony lauded Ford and others who stood up to the Taliban by staying that "each one of these men would simply say that they were doing their job and taking care of their fellow teammates."


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #57 on: June 25, 2008, 09:22:26 PM »


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Noonan: A day at at the beach
« Reply #58 on: July 05, 2008, 02:28:04 PM »

Peggy Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and a weekly columnist for the Journal's Weekend Edition and She is the author of seven books on politics and culture, most recently "John Paul the Great" (Viking, 2005) and "A Heart, A Cross, And A Flag: America Today," (Wall Street Journal Books), a collection of her essays. Ms. Noonan is a member of the board of the Manhattan Institute. She was a special assistant to President Reagan from 1984 through 1988. In 1988 she was chief speechwriter for Vice President George Bush as he ran for the presidency. Her first book, the best seller "What I Saw at the Revolution: A Political Life in the Reagan Era," was published in 1990. She is also author of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" (1994), "On Speaking Well" (1998), and "The Case Against Hillary Clinton" (2000) and "When Character Was King" (2001). Ms. Noonan is an Emmy Award nominee for her work on the first all-network special following 9/11, "America, a Tribute to Heroes," and for her work on the television show "The West Wing."
Before entering the Reagan White House, she was a producer at CBS News in New York, where she wrote and produced hourly reports on CBS Radio and Dan Rather's daily radio commentary. She also wrote television news specials for CBS News. In 1978 and 1979 she was an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. She holds honorary doctorates from her alma mater, Fairleigh Dickinson University, and from St. John Fisher College, Adelphi University, Saint Francis College and Miami University. Ms. Noonan lives in New York.

A Day at the Beach
July 5, 2008; Page A11
It was May 1944, and 22-year-old John Whitehead of Montclair, N.J., an ensign on the USS Thomas Jefferson, was placed in charge of five of the landing craft for the invasion of Europe. Each would ferry 25 soldiers from the TJ, as they called it, onto the shore of France. John's landing site was to be a 50-yard stretch of shoreline dubbed Dog Red Beach. It fell near the middle of the sector called Omaha Beach, which in turn fell in the middle of the entire assault.

Americans land at Normandy, June 6, 1944
The TJ sailed to Portsmouth Harbor, which was jam-packed with ships. On June 1 the Army troops arrived, coming up the gangway one by one. "They were very quiet," John said this week. Word came on June 4 that they'd leave that night, but they were ordered back in a storm. The next morning, June 5, the rain was still coming down, but the seas were calmer. Around 8 that night, they cast off to cross the channel. The skies were dark, rain lashed the deck, and the TJ rolled in the sea. At midnight they dropped anchor nine miles off the French coast. They ate a big breakfast of eggs and bacon. At 2 a.m. the crew began lowering the Higgins boats—"a kind of floating boxcar, rectangular, with high walls"—over the side by crane. The soldiers had to climb down big nets to get aboard. "They had practiced, but as Eisenhower always said, 'In wartime, plans are only good until the moment you try to execute them.' "

The Higgins boats pitched in the choppy water. The soldiers, loaded down "like mountaineers" with rifles, flame throwers, radio equipment, artillery parts, tarps, food, water, "70 pounds in all"—had trouble getting from the nets to the boats. "I saw a poor soul slip from the net into the water. He sank like a stone. He just disappeared in the depths of the sea. There was nothing we could do." So they boarded the boats on the deck and hoisted them into the sea.

It took John's five little boats four hours to cover the nine miles to the beach. "They were the worst hours of our lives. It was pitch black, cold, and the rain was coming down in sheets, drenching us. The boats were being tossed in the waves, making all of us violently sick. We'd all been given the big breakfast. Hardly anyone could hold it down. Packed in like that, with the boat's high walls. A cry went up: 'For Christ's sake, do it in your helmet!' "

"Around 4 a.m. the dawn broke and a pale light spread across the sea, and now we could see that we were in the middle of an armada—every kind of boat, destroyers, probably the greatest array of sea power ever gathered."

Now they heard the sound, the deep boom of the shells from the battleships farther out at sea, shelling the beach to clear a path. Above, barely visible through clouds, they saw the transport planes pushing through to drop paratroopers from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. "Those were brave men."

At 5 a.m. they were close enough to shore to see landmarks—a spit of land, a slight rise of a bluff. In front of them they saw some faster, sleeker British boats trying desperately to stay afloat in the choppy water. As the Americans watched, three of the boats flipped over and sank, drowning all the men. A British navigator went by in a different kind of boat. "He was standing up and he called out to my friend in a very jaunty British accent, 'I say, fellows, which way is it to Pointe du Hoc?' That was one of the landmarks, and the toughest beach of all. My friend yelled out that it was up to our right. 'Very good!' he cried out, and then went on by with a little wave of his hand."

Closer to shore, a furious din—"It was like a Fourth of July celebration multiplied by a thousand." By 6 a.m. they were 800 yards from shore. All five boats of the squadron had stayed together. The light had brightened enough that John could see his wristwatch. "At 6:20 I waved them in with a hard chop of my arm: Go!"

* * *

They faced a barrier, made a sharp left, ran parallel to the shore looking for an opening, got one, turned again toward the beach. They hit it, were in a foot or two of water. The impact jarred loose the landing ramps to release the soldiers as planned. But on John's boat, it didn't work. He scrambled to the bow, got a hammer, pounded the stuck bolt. The ramp crashed down and the soldiers lunged forth. Some were hit with shrapnel as they struggled through to the beach. Others made it to land only to be hit as they crossed it. The stuck ramp probably saved John's life. After he'd rushed forward to grab the hammer, he turned and saw the coxswain he'd been standing next to had been hit and killed by an incoming shell.

The troops of Omaha Beach took terrible fire. Half the soldiers from John's five boats were killed or wounded. "It was a horrible sight. But I had to concentrate on doing my job." To make room for the next wave of landings, they raised the ramp, backed out, turned around and sped back to the TJ. "I remember waving hello to the soldiers in the incoming boats, as if we were all on launches for a pleasure cruise. I remember thinking how odd that such gestures of civility would persist amid such horror."

Back at the TJ, he was told to take a second breakfast in the wardroom—white tablecloths, steward's mates asking if he'd like more. He thought it unreal: "from Dog Red Beach to the Ritz." He heard in the background the quiet boom of the liberation of Europe. Then back to a Higgins boat for another run at the beach. This time the ramp lowered, and he got off. Dog Red Beach was secure. The bodies of the dead and wounded had been carried up onto a rise below a bluff. He felt thankful he had survived. "Then I took a few breaths and felt elated, proud to have played a part in maybe the biggest battle in history."

* * *

John went on to landings in Marseilles, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After he came home, he went on to chair Goldman Sachs, work in Ronald Reagan's State Department, and head great organizations such as the International Rescue Committee. He is, in that beautiful old phrase, a public citizen.

But if you asked him today his greatest moment, he'd say that day on the beach, when he was alive and grateful for it. "At that moment, dead tired, soaked to the skin, I would not have wanted to be anywhere else in the world."

It is silly to think one generation is "better" than another. No one born in 1920 is, by virtue of that fact, better than someone born in 1960. But it is true that each era has a certain mood, certain assumptions—in John's era, sacrifice—and each generation distinguishes itself in time, or doesn't. John's did. He himself did. And what better day than today to say: Thanks, John.


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Combat Barbie
« Reply #59 on: July 13, 2008, 03:54:15 AM »
I don't know how to post the fotos, but she definitely is an attractive woman. :-)

Katrina Hodge is a part-time model and a soldier in the British Army
A female soldier who once fought off a suspected Iraqi insurgent has won a place in the final of Miss England.
Katrina Hodge, 21, will participate in the contest in July, having already won the Miss Tunbridge Wells crown.
L/Cpl Hodge was nicknamed Combat Barbie in 2005 after being given a bravery commendation for saving the lives of members of her regiment in Iraq.
They were held at gunpoint when their vehicle overturned but L/Cpl Hodge punched the gunman and took his rifles.
She said: "I was in complete shock at first. The force of the accident caused our vehicle to roll over three times and threw us off guard.
"As I came round, the Iraqi suspect was standing over us with the rifles. I knew if I didn't act fast then our lives would be in danger.
"I punched him and the force startled him enough for me to retrieve the rifles from him."
Miss Hodge, a military clerk with The Adjutant General's Corps, will go on to appear at Miss World 2008 if she wins the English title.
"I was delighted to have been selected for the Miss England final and it is a great honour," she added.
"Being a part-time model and a serving soldier is certainly a world apart. I want to use this competition to highlight the work that the Army are doing and what they have done for this country."
She is currently serving at Frimley Park Hospital in Camberley and will take part in the Miss England national finals on Friday.
Here is the original article describing what happened:

Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 15:52 GMT 
Female soldier's bravery honour

 Pte Hodge's battalion is now back in the UK after serving in Iraq

A female soldier has been honoured after risking her life to disarm an Iraqi prisoner.
Pte Katrina Hodge, 18, from Tunbridge Wells in Kent, carried out her act of bravery while serving with the 1st Battalion, Royal Anglian Regiment.

She managed to restrain and disarm an Iraqi man who had got hold of two weapons after being detained in Basra.

Ms Hodge's instinctive actions have led to a commendation from the commanding officer of her unit.
Her bravery is even more remarkable because she had just been involved in a road crash.

'Adrenaline rush'
"We detained an Iraqi suspect and on the way back to our base our vehicle was in a road traffic accident and it rolled over three times," she said.

"When it came to a halt I suddenly realised that the suspect had my weapon and the other soldier's weapon.
"I just looked at him and in that split second I thought 'oh my God, he's going to kill me'.

"But my instinct came in and I thought 'I'll just whack him'. "It was just a big adrenaline rush and I had to do something."

Ms Hodge has been dubbed Combat Barbie by her colleagues ever since turning up for her army basic training with "two pink suitcases, a pair of pink kitten heels, a pink coat and blonde hair".


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #60 on: July 28, 2008, 09:09:59 AM »
British soldier and his faithful friend die side-by-side in Afghanistan

Lance Corporal Ken Rowe and his sniffer dog Sasha have been named as those killed in a Taliban ambush in Helmand. Sean Rayment met them days before they died.

By Sean Rayment
Last Updated: 12:04PM BST 27 Jul 2008

Lance Corporal Ken Rowe was waiting for the patrol to assemble close to the rear gate of Forward Operating Base Inkerman, high in the Upper Sangin Valley.

With him was Sasha, a yellow Labrador, with a friendly face and a tail that never stopped wagging.

The pair were accompanying a routine early morning patrol, with 4 platoon, B Company of the 2nd Bn Parachute Regiment (2Para) into the Green Zone, a notorious Taliban stronghold, which begins only a few hundred yards from the walls of the isolated base.

As part of a three-week embed with the British Army in Helmand, I joined the patrol last Monday morning just as dawn was breaking over the Helmand desert.

Like many of the 30 soldiers who formed up for the patrol, I was immediately drawn to Sasha. I let her smell my hand before patting her head and tickling her ear. Sasha looked up, her face almost smiling, enjoying the attention.

"Lovely dog", I said to L/Cpl Rowe, "She's the best", he said. We then chatted about the merits of "explosives search dogs" in Helmand.

"They're a major asset," said L/Cpl Rowe. "The soldiers love having them on patrol They can find explosives and weapons, even the presence of weapons, so out here they are a really useful tool and the soldiers like having them around as well - and the Taliban don't."

As we chatted, other soldiers went through the same ritual. Lots of pats and "hello girl" from the troops as they moved forward to load their weapons. It was as though the presence of a dog was a reminder of home, something familiar and unthreatening, in a hostile and violent world. It was imperceptible, but I could almost sense the soldiers' morale lifting as it became clear that L/Cpl Rowe and Sasha were joining the patrol.

Then, for a split second, all of those hours of obedience training gave way to instinct when Sasha caught sight of one of the many leopard-like feral cats that roam the base.
Sasha disappeared, without a sound in a cloud of dust, chasing the cat around the camp. We all laughed quietly. "Who'd be a dog handler?", L/Cpl Rowe said to himself, slightly embarrassed by his dog's momentary lapse of self-control.

Sasha came back, head bowed, knowing that she had erred. L/Cpl Rowe attached the lead and said "sit!". The dog obeyed, and then, in an act of affection, let her body rest against the side of her master's leg. "She's saying sorry", said L/Cpl Rowe.
The patrol took us through a local hamlet called Saregar, which the soldiers had dubbed the "Star Wars Village", and then into the Green Zone, where they began searching a series of compounds for Taliban weapons and explosives.

It is difficult and dangerous work, and the dog handlers, who are attached to units from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, share exactly the same risks.

The threat from Improvised Explosive Devices and so-called legacy mines from the Soviet occupation, is ever present, and rather than stand and fight, the Taliban now "shoot and scoot", according to the soldiers.

The dangers in this part of Helmand are now so great that the soldiers paraphrase the mantra used by the IRA during the 30 years of The Troubles.

"The Taliban only have to be lucky once but we have to be lucky all the time", Sergeant Wayne Sykes, told me as we patrolled through the Green Zone, waiting for the Taliban to attack.

Luck ran out for L/Cpl Rowe, 24, and Sasha last Thursday, when during another identical routine patrol through the Green Zone, both he and Sasha were killed instantly by automatic fire in a Taliban ambush. Six other soldiers were also injured.
L/Cpl Rowe and Sasha had died together as they had served together, side by side.

I was shocked when told of L/Cpl Rowe's death. Like many who knew him, my first instinct was that it must have been a mistake. Then the realisation dawned and it seemed almost impossible that someone you had been chatting to a few days earlier had now gone for ever.


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Sgt Claude
« Reply #61 on: August 09, 2008, 03:39:13 AM »
Profiles of valor: USA Sgt. Claude
In September 2007, United States Army Sergeant Charles Claude Jr. was on patrol in Mosul, Iraq, as the turret gunner in an M1117 Guardian Armored Security Vehicle (ASV). Claude’s convoy noticed an IED ahead and sent forward troops to neutralize it as quickly as possible. As soon as it was disabled, however, insurgents attacked from all directions with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Sgt. Claude fired back, taking out two insurgent vehicles—known as “technicals” —before being hit himself by a barrage of fire. His vehicle commander was also wounded. But Claude fought on despite his wound, and despite the fact that the sights of his machine gun were destroyed by enemy fire. Then, in close-quarters fighting, an insurgent jumped onto Claude’s vehicle. While the driver tried to throw the insurgent off, Claude spun his turret toward the enemy and ended the threat. As the area was secured, Claude continued to ignore his wound while providing defensive cover. Later it was discovered that the two disabled enemy “technicals” were mobile weapons caches, and they were no longer in the hands of terrorists. Sgt. Claude’s courageous actions that day saved numerous American lives and turned the tables on an enemy ambush. He was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #62 on: August 12, 2008, 03:38:50 PM »
Woof All:

I suppose there are other threads where the following WSJ piece could have been placed, but I feel like putting it here.  God bless our troops and our profound gratitude for what they have done for us.


The War in Iraq Is Over.
What Next?
August 12, 2008; Page A21


The war I witnessed for more than five years in Iraq is over. In July, there were five American fatalities in Iraq, the lowest since the war began in March 2003. In Mosul recently, I chatted with shopkeepers on the same corner where last January a Humvee was blown apart in front of me. In the Baghdad district of Ghazilia -- where last January snipers controlled streets awash in human waste -- I saw clean streets and soccer games. In Basra, the local British colonel was dining at a restaurant in the center of the bustling city.

For the first time in 15 trips across the country, I didn't hear one shot or a single blast from a roadside bomb. In Anbar Province, scene of the fiercest fighting during the war, the tribal sheiks insisted to Barack Obama on his recent visit that the U.S. Marines had to stay because they were the most trusted force.

The war turned around in late 2006 because American troops partnered with Iraqi forces and tribal auxiliaries to protect the population. Feeling safe, the population informed on the militias and terrorists living among them. Then, in the spring of 2008, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki attacked the Mahdi militia of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that controlled Basra and half of Baghdad. The militia crumbled under pressure from Iraqi soldiers backed by coalition intelligence and air assets.

The threat in Iraq has changed from a full-scale insurgency into an antiterror campaign. Al Qaeda in Iraq is entrenched in northern Mosul, where it may take 18 months to completely defeat them. By employing what he calls his "Anaconda Strategy," Gen. David Petraeus is squeezing the life out of al Qaeda in Iraq. The mafia-style militia of Sadr has been splintered.

The competition among Iraqi politicians has shifted from violence to politics, albeit yielding a track record as poor as that of our own Congress. After failing for two years to deliver basic services, both Shiite and Sunni politicians are stalling on legislation to hold provincial elections because many of them will be defeated. While irritating, these political games have not blocked U.S. gains.

Americans should praise rather than slight our military's achievements. Civil war has been averted. The Iraqi army has thrown the militia out of the port of Um Qasar, thus ensuring stable oil exports. Al Qaeda fought to make Iraq its base in the Arab Middle East. Instead, it is being hunted down.

Iran has emerged as the major threat to stability in Iraq. While its goal was to control a weak Iraq after the American army was driven out, Tehran overplayed its hand. Iran supplied the rockets to attack Iraqi politicians in Baghdad in April and supported Sadr's militia. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Shiites died fighting Iranians in the '80s, and those memories are still fresh. In southern Maysan Province, American and Iraqi units are waiting to hunt down terrorists returning from Iranian training camps. Iraq, backed by some American forces in remote desert bases, is poised to emerge as a regional counterweight to Iran.

Yet the progress in Iraq is most threatened by a political promise in the U.S. to remove all American combat brigades, against the advice of our military commanders. Iraqi volunteers working for a nonsectarian political party in Baghdad asked me, "Is America giving up its goals?" It's an unsettling question.

With victory in sight, why would we quit? The steady -- but not total -- withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq is freeing up forces to fight in Afghanistan. But Afghanistan is not the central front in the war on terror. Al Qaeda is hiding in Pakistan, a nation we are not going to invade.

The Iraqis aren't yet confident enough to stand entirely on their own; al Qaeda's savagery still imposes too much fear, while Iran is training terrorists next door. In counterinsurgency, the people must know they are protected. Gen. Petraeus has proven that intimidation can be defeated by placing American soldiers among the population. Wars are won by confidence, but also by procedures that take time to mature; and the Iraqi offensive against Sadr's militia in Basra last April revealed an atrocious Iraqi command and control system.

We are withdrawing as conditions permit. For instance, in the infamous Triangle of Death south of Baghdad, Col. Dominic Caraccilo has spread his rifle companies across 22 police precincts. Over the next year, he plans to pull out two of every three companies, leaving the population protected by Iraqi forces, backed by a thin screen of American soldiers.

If implemented on a countrywide scale, this model would reduce the American presence from 15 to five brigades over the next few years. They can be comprised of artillerymen, motor transport and civil affairs as well as infantrymen. By calling these residual forces "Transition Teams," we can remove the political argument in the U.S. about the exact number of combat brigades, and allow our commanders flexibility in adjusting force levels. This change of names rather than of missions is a way to save face and bring Americans closer together.

The problem is not American force levels in Iraq. It is divisiveness at home. While our military has adapted, our society has disconnected from its martial values. I was standing beside an Iraqi colonel one day in war-torn Fallujah when a tough Marine patrol walked by. "You Americans," he said, "are the strongest tribe."

But we cast aspersions on ourselves. The success of our military should not be begrudged to gain transitory political advantage.

In 1991, our nation held a parade after our military liberated Kuwait. Over the course of more than five hard years, our troops have brought stability and freedom to 25 million Iraqis, while crushing al Qaeda in Iraq. Regardless of disagreement about initiating the war back in 2003, Americans should unite to applaud the success of our troops in 2008.

A stable Iraq keeps faith with the million American soldiers who fought there, sets back Iran's aggression, and makes our enemies in Afghanistan and elsewhere fear us. It's time we stopped debating about yesterday and displayed national pride in our soldiers.

Mr. West is a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine. His third book on the Iraq war, "The Strongest Tribe: War, Politics and the Endgame in Iraq," is out today from Random House.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #63 on: August 15, 2008, 08:44:04 AM »
A Fight to the Finish
August 15, 2008; Page A13

The Strongest Tribe
By Bing West
(Random House, 417 pages, $28)

"Imagine the scene. You are tired, sweaty, filthy. You've been at it day after day, with four hours' sleep, running down hallways, kicking in doors, rushing in, sweeping the beam of the flashlight on your rifle into the far corners. . . . there's a flash and the firing hammers your ears. You can't hear a thing and it's way too late to think. The jihadist rounds go high -- the death blossom -- and your M4 is suddenly steady. It has been bucking slightly as you jerked and squeezed through your 30 rounds, not even knowing you were shooting. Trained instinct. . . . 'Out! Out!' Your fire team leader is screaming in your face. . . . [He] already has a grenade in his hand, shaking it violently to get your attention. . . . He pulls the pin, plucks off the safety cap, and chucks it underhand into the smoky room."

This is what an ambush felt like, for an American soldier, in Fallujah in 2004. Bing West was there, going house to house with the U.S. Marines. Unlike so many Iraq-war commentators, Mr. West has seen the fierce fighting in Iraq at close range. "The Strongest Tribe" is, in part, his attempt to capture the experience of the men with the boots and the guns -- the rank-and-file U.S. infantry whose skills and sacrifices have brought the long, bloody American campaign in Iraq to the brink of victory. Over five years, Mr. West has traveled with 60 U.S. and Iraqi battalions and interviewed 2,000 soldiers, mostly in Baghdad and Anbar province, the heartland of al Qaeda's insurgency. His chronicle is full of eyewitness accounts of nerve-wracking patrols, improvised-explosive detonations and small-unit gunfights.

But Mr. West, who served in Vietnam as a Marine infantry officer, is more than a battlefield observer. He is a military analyst who wants to show how counterinsurgency works. Specifically, he wants to explain how the "surge" of the past 18 months has proved to be such a success.

By any historical standard, Mr. West argues, the average U.S. grunt is the model of humane professionalism and, when challenged in open combat, ruthless military efficiency. It enrages him that defeatist American critics seize on isolated incidents such as the Abu Ghraib prison fiasco and civilian deaths in Haditha to portray American soldiers as war criminals. "No nation," he writes, "ever fought a more restrained and honorable war."

Given the quality of the American fighting man, why has it taken this long to subdue the al Qaeda terrorists infesting Anbar and the Shiite death squads terrorizing Baghdad's Sunnis? The most obvious and vexing problem, Mr. West argues, is that U.S. soldiers have had trouble distinguishing insurgents from the civilian population until the enemy actually opens fire or detonates an IED.

Cultivating a network of informants would have solved the problem early in the war. But until 2007 few Iraqis came forward: Civilians who collaborated with the Americans were targeted for grisly death as soon as the U.S. military moved on to the next hot spot. For similar reasons, Iraq's police and army units had difficulty attracting reliable recruits. Only when jihadists overplayed their hand by killing influential sheiks and treating their daughters as concubines did Sunni powerbrokers turn against al Qaeda wholesale.

A second problem, Mr. West argues, was Washington's counterinsurgency strategy, which he portrays as fundamentally incoherent. Donald Rumsfeld, the defense secretary until November 2006, was focused from the get-go on bringing the troops home and insisted that "the U.S. military doesn't do nation- building." But President Bush declared a broader mission: to transform Iraq into a peaceful, stable, pluralistic society.

The contradiction between the two philosophies was resolved only in late 2006, when Mr. Bush decisively backed the surge strategy, which gave American generals the extra brigades they needed to secure Baghdad and its environs. American soldiers were required to deploy to small outposts in the heart of insurgent neighborhoods, which would then be methodically cleared, block-by-block, using classic grass-roots counterinsurgency techniques.

Even Mr. Bush's overarching dream of bringing democracy to Iraq was ill-conceived, Mr. West says, at least in the short run. In exile, Shiite dissidents had spoken the language of human rights and tolerance. Once in power -- the 2005 election was in effect a sectarian census dominated by the majority Shiites -- they ensconced themselves in Baghdad's Green Zone and busied themselves with palace intrigues and corrupt empire-building. The Interior Ministry, which controls Iraq's police, developed an open alliance with Moqtada al-Sadr's brutal Shiite militias. Elements within the Iraqi Army likewise acted as a sentry service for Shiite death squads. It was "misleading," Mr. West says, for Mr. Bush and others "to extol Iraqi leaders, and it was calumny to compare them to America's Founding Fathers."

Things might have unfolded differently, Mr. West suggests. From the insurgency's early days in 2003, some U.S. commanders tried to cut deals with sheiks, bribe ad hoc tribal militias to keep the peace and inject U.S. capital into local economic projects. But with a few exceptions, these initiatives were undercut by the Coalition Provisional Authority and then by the Iraqi government, both of which wanted to centralize power in Baghdad. It was only in late 2006, with the rise of the Sunni "awakening" movement -- whereby the Sunnis themselves turned against the al Qaeda operatives in their midst -- that Washington realized the solution in Iraq had to be bottom-up instead of top-down.

The tragedy of Iraq is that the war's architects took three years to learn the lessons that many on-the-ground military commanders had gravitated to instinctively. During this dark period, it was only thanks to the professionalism and staying power of America's much-abused warrior class that the country was able to avoid an epic defeat in the heartland of the Arab Middle East. Bing West's "The Strongest Tribe" deserves to be read as an authoritative testament to this historic achievement.

Mr. Kay is managing editor for comment at Canada's National Post newspaper.


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Bronze Star: USN PO Hamill
« Reply #64 on: August 15, 2008, 08:58:13 AM »
Second post of the day
Patriot Post

Profiles of valor: USN Petty Officer Hamill
In February 2007, then-Petty Officer James Hamill of the United States Navy was the command photographer assigned by the Provincial Reconstruction Team to document the opening of the Khost Provincial Hospital Emergency Room in Khost, Afghanistan. The hospital was a sign of progress in the dangerous Afghan province, and, therefore, a natural target for the enemy. Intelligence provided some warning of a possible suicide attack, but the event continued as planned. At the event, a suicide bomber dressed as a doctor did indeed sneak through the Afghan police’s outer security perimeter. An American soldier became suspicious, however, and stopped the supposed doctor. When he saw the explosive vest, he tackled the bomber. As the two wrestled, the alarm was sounded. It was then that Hamill dropped his camera in favor of his rifle. And not a moment too soon. The bomber was able to free himself and charged ahead, but Hamill stood his ground. He opened fire less than 10 feet away, hitting the bomber repeatedly, though as he fell, the bomber detonated himself. Hamill took shrapnel to the abdomen. Six other Americans were also injured, but no one was killed. Hamill ignored his wounds and helped perform life-saving aid on the other injured soldiers, as well as securing the area to prevent a follow-up attack. Hamill’s actions that day helped save many lives. For his “extraordinary heroism” and “total dedication to duty” he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #65 on: August 17, 2008, 10:34:51 AM »
Secret work of SAS in Iraq exposed

The secret work of SAS troops battling Al Qa'eda terrorists in Iraq has been exposed by the American commander in the country.

By Thomas Harding, Defence Correspondent
Last Updated: 11:14PM BST 11 Aug 2008

British special forces had played an "immense" role in taking out terrorist bomb-making cells and insurgent leaders over the last five years, said Gen David Petraeus.

In one incident the SAS blended into the heavy Baghdad traffic by hiring a pink pick-up truck and removing their military clothing to capture a terrorist, the general said.

"They have helped immensely in the Baghdad area, in particular, to take down the al-Qaeda car bomb networks and other al-Qaeda operations in Iraq's capital city, so they have done a phenomenal job in that regard," he said.

The exposure of SAS exploits is unusual as the Ministry of Defence very rarely comments on special forces operations giving little insight.

The SAS has been operating from Baghdad since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 carrying out strike operations against insurgents.

Very little is known about the success of their missions but Gen Petraeus indicated yesterday that working alongside their American colleagues in Delta Force the British had had a significant impact in defeating Al Qa'eda in Iraq.

The SAS had played a key part in defeating a network of car bombers in Baghdad that had brought devastation to the capital.

Quoting the Special Air Service motto "Who Dares Wins" the general said there had been numerous successes on many "very important operations".

"They have exceptional initiative, exceptional skill, exceptional courage and, I think, exceptional savvy. I can't say enough about how impressive they are in thinking on their feet," said Gen Petraeus, the main architect of "surge" strategy that has seen a substantial decrease in violence with the influx of extra American troops.

The SAS, working alongside MI6, the Special Reconnaissance Regiment and the Special Forces Support Group, are based in The Station, a high security area in Baghdad's Green Zone.
SAS snipers have been extremely successful shooting dead suicide bombers about to detonate their devices and troopers have called in clinical air strikes to kill terror chiefs known as "high value targets".

Officers have said Baghdad is one of the "most challenging" environments the unit has ever faced in the world.
It is thought the troops have killed hundreds of insurgents both in Baghdad and when they have been called down to Basra to assist regular British troops.

But British special forces have paid a high price for their success in Iraq with 10 killed and scores seriously wounded, with some losing limbs.

Among the biggest cause of casualties has been from abseiling out of helicopters while carrying more than 100lbs of equipment. The troops now have a designated physiotherapist.
Last month a coroner allowed the naming of Tpr Lee Fitzsimmons and Sgt John Battersby who were killed when their RAF Puma helicopter crashed near the Baghdad suburb of Salman Pak.

Another SAS soldier Nick Brown died during a firefight with Shia fighters in Baghdad on 26 March when he was part of a team sent in to arrest a militia commander.

American commanders have also said SAS troops have been used to hunt for the five British hostage who were seized from a Finance Ministry building in Baghdad in May last year.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #66 on: September 01, 2008, 10:32:46 AM »
Profiles of valor: USA 1st Lt. Pixler
In October 2007, then-First Lieutenant Ross Pixler of the United States Army Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division was on patrol in al Bawi, Iraq, when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle was hit by an IED. The ensuing explosion killed three fellow soldiers and wounded Pixler, the driver and the gunner. Pixler, acting on his training, immediately checked on the driver and gunner, both of whom were unconscious, and then took up a defensive position. “Everything goes really fast, and I wasn’t really stopping to think about what I was doing,” he said. “I was doing what I was trained to do.” Still reeling from his concussion, Pixler and the rest of his unit had to fight off a small arms attack; Pixler directed air support as well.

Hours later, as the attack was repelled, Pixler and the other survivors were loaded onto another Bradley and began moving toward base when another IED exploded, crippling that vehicle. The soldiers then fought off a second attack before finally making it back to their base. For his bravery and tenacity while injured and under attack, Pixler was awarded the Silver Star. Now-Captain Pixler considers it “an award for every single one of the soldiers that were out there, and the ones that can’t come home.”


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #67 on: October 03, 2008, 12:38:55 PM »
Profiles of valor: USMC LCpl McLeese
On 16 September 2004, United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Justin McLeese was riding in a convoy traveling to a compound in central Iraq when his Humvee flipped off the road in the rough, gravel terrain. He was thrown 20 feet from the vehicle but immediately went back to help those trapped inside. McLeese pulled two fellow Marines from the wreckage, including his platoon sergeant. The platoon then lifted the Humvee off the ground to save a third Marine stuck underneath.

It was in Fallujah later that year, though, where McLeese really proved his mettle. As his team was clearing numerous buildings in the city on 11 November, they engaged and killed four enemy fighters. One insurgent had faked his death, however, and tried to engage the Marines from a nearby room. McLeese acted quickly, eliminating the threat with a shotgun blast. Two days later, upon entering another building in Fallujah, McLeese was hit numerous times by enemy fire. Despite his wounds, he continued to fight alongside his comrades until he was fatally wounded by an IED explosion. For his courage and tenacity under fire, McLeese posthumously received the Bronze Star.


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Civil Affairs Team 745
« Reply #68 on: October 17, 2008, 08:26:53 AM »
Partriot Post

Profiles of valor: Civil Affairs Team 745
United States Army Sgt. 1st Class Drew Kimmey, Capt. Stephen Ward and Staff Sgt. Carlo Alcazar, members of Civil Affairs Team 745, were recently recognized for their daring rescue of a Special Forces team leader during an Afghanistan mission last November. CA Team 745 was stationed at Firebase Cobra in Oruzgan, Afghanistan, alongside special operations detachments from the 3rd Special Forces Group, as well as personnel from the Afghan National Army and National Police. The teams left to provide humanitarian aid to a nearby village, only to discover that the village had already been evacuated. Ward noted that “the buildings had locks and barricaded doors, which was a clear indication that the village wasn’t abandoned, but had been turned into a defendable position.” Indeed, 300 Taliban fighters soon engaged the teams in a firefight.

After an hour of fighting, two Army disabled vehicles were pulled to the rear of the fight, leaving the ground forces commander in front of coalition lines, pinned down in a vulnerable building. Ward, Alcazar and Kimmey used their vehicle to get to the commander for a rescue but crashed into an enemy position, rendering their vehicle immobile. Ward and Alcazar were momentarily knocked unconscious in the crash. When they recovered, Alcazar began reloading ammunition belts so that Kimmey, the gunner, could continue pounding enemy fighters. Ward directed the effort to reach the ground commander under Kimmey’s cover fire. The unit remained under “continual, accurate and effective” enemy fire but managed to rescue the commander nonetheless. Once out of the building, team 745 stripped their vehicle to prevent the enemy from obtaining anything and ran beside a Special Forces vehicle for cover, there being no room for them on the truck.

For their bravery and heroic acts that day, Sgt. Kimmey, Capt. Ward and Staff Sgt. Alcazar were each awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #69 on: October 22, 2008, 04:46:13 PM »

75th Ranger Regiment Soldier awarded Silver Star
By Staff Sgt. Andrew Kosterman
1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

FORT LEWIS, Wash. (USASOC News Service, Sept. 27, 2008) – What began as a mission to find and eliminate terrorists earlier this year in Iraq ended up being a life-defining moment for one member of 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Spc. Joe Gibson
Spc. Joe Gibson was on a secret night mission Apr. 26, 2008 when he placed his comrades’ lives ahead of his while evacuating wounded American Soldiers and engaging in hand-to-hand combat with a suicide bomber.  His actions that day saved the lives of fellow Rangers.

The attention brought from the awarding of the nation’s third highest medal for valor makes Gibson feel slightly “uncomfortable,” and is quick to point out the achievements of his brothers in arms.

“I am honored to be here with those other guys that got honored,” said Gibson following an awards ceremony for members of the unit.

The medal was presented to Gibson by Adm. Eric Olson, commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command.  With the stoic look many Rangers have from multiple combat tours, Gibson stood tall when presented the medal.  Before presenting Gibson and other Rangers medals for their actions in combat, Olson lauded the men of the 75th Ranger Regiment.

“You are a special breed, we ask a lot of you and for that the nation and I thank you,” said Olson.  “Rangers are proven over and over again in battle.  Rangers are glorified in Hollywood movies, but you aren’t actors, you are real men who make real sacrifices”

Olson added that Gibson’s actions during the mission for which he was awarded “exemplify and uphold the warrior culture of the Rangers.”


As the helicopter full of Rangers touched down that April night, Gibson and fellow Soldiers found themselves dodging enemy small arms fire less than 50 meters away.  Gibson’s platoon sergeant said the enemy small arms and machine gun fire began “less than a minute” after the group disembarked the helicopter.

“The contact was heavy where Spc. Gibson was,” said the platoon sergeant.  “We took 2 casualties there.”

He described the setting as “a very dark night, out in the middle of nowhere with no ambient light, chest high grass, deep irrigation ditches.”

Among the two casualties the Rangers sustained was a life threatening gun shot wound victim. 

“The guy that got hit is a real good friend of mine, and he called out to me,” said Gibson.  “Me and another guy moved to him.  I had the medical equipment, so I started getting that prepped while other people started taking care of him.  We got him ready for (evacuation), patched him up and started moving him out.”

Transporting the casualty over an uneven field with irrigation ditches and through enemy fire was a challenge for the Rangers.

“Moving him out was horrible. It was the most ‘smoked’ I’ve ever been.  It was physically demanding,” said Gibson.

The Rangers’ dedication to each other motivated Gibson to get his friend to safety. 

“It was my buddy, I didn’t want to quit,” said Gibson. “For a while, it was just me on one end of the litter.”

Gibson’s actions are credited with saving the Soldier’s life.  The Soldier returned home safely to see his wife and newborn.


After assisting in the medical evacuation, Gibson and the Rangers continued on with their mission.  They began to clear a field with tall grass and canals near the helicopter landing zone.  The Rangers knew enemy was still in the area even though most had fled when the Soldiers touched down.  While clearing the field, Gibson stepped on a terrorist hiding in a ditch under some grass.

“I really didn’t think it was a person that I stepped on because I thought it was just another part of the ground, maybe some trash or something,” said Gibson.

Initially, Gibson continued for a few more steps past the terrorist.  Following his gut instinct, Gibson turned around investigate what he stepped on.  The terrorist moved to kill Gibson and the Rangers.

“He didn’t say anything other than giving his war cry,” explained Gibson.  “He had an advantage on me.  I didn’t have a chance to get my weapon ready and I knew he was gonna shoot me, so I dived on him.”

Gibson grabbed the muzzle of the terrorist’s rifle as the terrorist began to fire.  Gibson wrestled the terrorist to the ground and gained positional control.  He struggled and later stripped the terrorist of his weapon.  After stripping the terrorist of the weapon, the terrorist gripped Gibson’s rifle.  Without the ability to use a firearm, Gibson engaged the enemy with his hands.

“Then he ripped off my helmet and all my (night vision) optics, so I couldn’t see all that well,” recalled Gibson.

The terrorist then began to reach for something hiding in his clothing.

“I stopped him ‘cause I thought maybe he was grabbing a knife to attack me with,” said Gibson.

The terrorist was reaching for the detonator to his suicide vest.  The terrorist screamed “bomb!” in English.

“I thought at that moment that I was probably going to die,” explained Gibson.

As Gibson worked to stop the terrorist from detonating his vest, the terrorist had maneuvered into a position that was cutting off Gibson’s circulation.  Gibson, in an effort to save himself, began to hit the terrorist as hard as he could.  His blows rendered the terrorist unconscious. 

“I got my weapon into his stomach and fired,” said Gibson.  “And he came back to conscious after that, I knew I got him.  I stood up and neutralized him.”


The native of Yale, Okla. explains that he was just doing what he was supposed to do and that he thinks he doesn’t deserve any special recognition.  Gibson said he is honored to serve as a Ranger and have save his fellow Soldier’s life.  Gibson added that he “can’t wait” to return to Iraq.  Following the incident, Gibson re-enlisted to fight with the Ranger platoon he accompanied that night.


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Hand to hand!
« Reply #70 on: November 20, 2008, 08:42:35 AM »
Training at hand
Fighting in Iraq, one soldier decides he isn?t going to die lying down

By Staff Sgt. Paul McCully

The following story was told by infantryman Staff Sgt. Paul McCully, 24,
during a post-action interview for the Army Combatives School.

On June 1, 2005, at about 2 a.m., my platoon was staged by the main gate of
Forward Operating Base Courage in Mosul, Iraq, as the quick-reaction force
for our battalion.

We received a call that Iraqi commandos were conducting a raid on a
suspected insurgent safe house. When the commandos entered the house they
found one male, one nude female and next to them was a bomb.

They immediately left the house because of the bomb and sat outside in the
middle of the street and wherever they could while they waited for us to
come and secure the objective. There were guys sleeping, smoking cigarettes
and just hanging around. There were at least 100 of these commandos.

When we showed up, it was a blind hit. All the Iraqi commandos told us was
that they had taken fire from that building earlier. They left out that it
was a safe house for bad guys and that the people who had been there had
jumped the roof to the next house.

At the home of the bomb couple, my team was the second in to secure the
first floor and establish a foothold. Once we cleared the house, my platoon
sergeant stepped on what seemed to be a loose tile in the kitchen floor.

When we removed it we found a large cache of rocket-propelled grenades,
ammo, U.S. government-issued C4 explosive, two-way radios and multiple
weapons systems, but no people.

Since the roof was connected to the roof of the house behind the one we were
in, the call was made to move around and clear that house, too. Once my team
moved into position to breach the second house, we were given the word to
move and secure it.

Immediately upon entry, we were confronted by about 20 men, women and
children, who were all awake and seemed scared. The fact that they were
bunched together like that was a red flag that something was not right.

Once we secured the first floor, my team moved in to secure the group of
people so we could move up to the next floor and to the roof entrance.

The door was barricaded from the inside with a bed frame to keep people from
coming in. Once we managed to move the barricade, we stacked on the door and
proceeded to clear the roof.

I was the second man in the stack, and Sgt. Joshua Owens was first.

We were spread thin, so we mixed our teams to keep the forward momentum.

Owens went out and turned right. I followed him and went left, but there was
a wall, so I fanned right to cover Owens.

We were only a couple of steps outside the door; I was just to the left of
Owens, and about two seconds had passed by, when a bright flash lit us up.

I wasn?t sure what had happened, I just knew I was laid out on my stomach,
and I couldn?t feel my hands or legs. I could hear Owens screaming, and I
was checking myself to see if I was physically intact when another explosion
went off, a hand grenade, but it wasn?t as loud as the first one.

I felt the shrapnel impact my helmet but was still in a daze and confused as
to what was going on.

Then I felt something that seemed to be tapping my helmet and everything
sounded muffled.

My initial thought was that it was my guys pulling me out of there, but when
I looked up, everything came back to me ? sound, reality, cleared vision.

There was a bad guy standing over me.

I was looking up at him and expecting him to unload his AK47 on me, but he
was screaming and butt-stroking me in the head.

The second I realized that it wasn?t my guys, I got up as fast as I could
and grabbed his AK muzzle with my right hand and his shirt on his right
shoulder with my left hand.

I don?t even remember placing my hands on the ground to push myself up; it
just seemed like I floated up ? that?s how fast it happened.

After I grabbed him and his weapon, I was jerking it in an outward motion
but making sure to keep the muzzle away from me.

After what seemed to be two or three seconds, I got the AK out of his hands
and on the ground to the right of me a couple of feet. I had finally jerked
it free, and it went flying.

He tried to dive for the AK, but I grabbed him and went to the clinch with
him to control him. A clinch is when you control a person?s upper body by
placing both your hands around his neck. Our bodies were close together; I
had his hair in my right hand, pushing his head down, and my left hand was
controlling his left shoulder.

I immediately started throwing right uppercuts and knees to [mess] him up.

I did that because I thought that there were more of my own guys behind me,
but it turns out that Owens and I were the only ones to make it outside
before the initial explosion. The No. 3 and No. 4 men got blown back into
the building.

After I threw the blows, I held on to him with the shirt and hair and
extended my arms to allow the guys who I thought were behind me to have a
clear shot. But that never happened. It seemed like I was alone, and nobody
was there to help me.

He was screaming stuff about Allah as I continued to hit him as he was
struggling to get to his weapon. Owens came running up to me with his pistol
drawn. He had lost his M4 rifle in the blast also, so he pulled his M9

He came up to my right side, right next to me so he wouldn?t shoot me in the
struggle. Right as he fired one shot into the enemy?s stomach, the enemy had
reached up and grabbed Owen?s pistol.

At that moment I let go and took a step back and secured my M4. Owens had
swung him around to the left, which put him right in front of me.

With Owens and the bad guy fighting for Owens? M9, I put the barrel of my
rifle in the bad guy?s right side, point-blank, right underneath his armpit,
and fired a single shot.

The bad guy squealed like a pig and hit the ground like a sack, landing on
his back. I immediately placed the barrel of my rifle in his face and fired
ten shots to finish him. All of this happened within a matter of about 20
seconds, but seemed like forever.

As far as my kit goes, I didn?t have a knife on me at that time. I was
wearing a Tactical Taylor plate carrier with 7.62 x 61mm armor-piercing
incendiary-proof plates, hatch operator gloves, ballistic eye-pro and knee

After I shot him in the face, I took a knee and was trying to comprehend
everything that had just happened. It was just kind of, I was like, ?Holy
shit, did this just happen?? It was kind of like a weird euphoria thing
going on.

My platoon leader came out and asked if we were hit, and I told him nothing
hurt, but my leg felt different. They pulled me and Owens into the building
for the medic. Since we had blood and charred flesh and hair all over us, it
was hard for the medic to tell what was ours and what wasn?t.

So Spc. Danny Pech, our platoon medic, and Spc. Joshua Curley, my rifleman,
with the help of Spc. Jay Banuelos, carried us down to the designated
casualty collection point and started stripping us down so they could
administer aid.

My wound was first reported as a gunshot wound to my right thigh, and Owens
had a bullet graze on his right shin and shrapnel to the arms and legs.

Once we were medevaced to the main combat support hospital on Forward
Operating Base Diamondback in Mosul, we were given morphine and sent for
X-rays to see what was inside us.

My wound was actually shrapnel, which split into three pieces when it
impacted my leg, stopping just short of my femoral artery. Owens had
shrapnel in his arm and leg and a bullet graze on his right shin.

I?ve always been a pretty aggressive person, but having some stuff to back
you up, the Army combatives training, is great. Knowledge and experience is
always good to have.

When I looked up and saw [the enemy] standing over me, all I really thought
about was, ?This guy?s going to blast me.? I was thinking about how I was
going to let my kids down, and I just said, ?Screw it, I?m not going to die
lying down like this.? I just jumped up and expected him to pull the
trigger, but he never got the chance.

The writer is assigned to 2nd Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, in
Vilseck, Germany. At the time of the events, he was a member of B Company,
3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division,
Stryker Brigade Combat Team, of Fort Lewis, Wash.


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From the French POV
« Reply #71 on: November 24, 2008, 07:44:43 AM »

"Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us."

We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing “ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events”. Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.

They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.

Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission.

And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how.

Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.

To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America’s army’s deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers”.


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3rd SF group gets Silver Star
« Reply #72 on: December 12, 2008, 11:12:48 AM »
Profiles of Valor: 3rd Special Forces Group
On 6 April 2008, in the mountains of Afghanistan's Nuristan province, a battle erupted between a team of 12 Special Forces troops from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336, a few dozen Afghan allies and hundreds of jihadis. The soldiers had jumped from helicopters at daybreak onto a mountain covered in ice, attempting to gain the high ground on a terrorist stronghold in the Shok Valley. Their mission: To capture or kill members of the militant group Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HIG). But insurgents quickly took positions against the U.S. troops -- and the insurgents had the high ground. Staff Sgt. Luis Morales saw an insurgent and opened fire, killing him, but enemy fighters then began firing on U.S. and Afghan troops from practically every direction. Because there was only one way up the valley, the jihadis "were able to wait until we were in the most vulnerable position to initiate the ambush," said Staff Sgt. Seth Howard. Several soldiers were hit in the opening barrage, but they all fought back. "We were pretty much in the open, there were no trees to hide behind," said Morales, who helped pull Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr, shot in the hip, back to a safer position. Morales himself had been shot in the thigh and ankle.

For the next seven hours, the small contingent of U.S. and Afghan troops fought hard while pinned to the side of the mountain, and managed to get down the mountain without being overwhelmed only when Air Force jets bombarded the insurgent positions with 2,000-pound bombs. The soldiers who could walk carried those who couldn't, including Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding, who was hit by a bullet that according to Master Sgt. Scott Ford, the team sergeant, "basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield."

A helicopter attempted to land and evacuate the soldiers, but took several rounds in the rotor and hovered just long enough for the medic to jump off. A second helicopter then landed in an icy stream nearby and collected the troops. Among the Americans and Afghans, there were 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while 150 to 200 jihadis were killed. The Green Berets were nearly out of ammunition, too -- each one had two magazines left. Today, 10 of those soldiers from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd Special Forces Group will receive the Silver Star for their heroism. It will be the highest such number given to elite troops for a single battle since the Vietnam War. (For more details of the battle, see The Washington Post's account.)


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #73 on: December 12, 2008, 08:59:58 PM »

The Impact of War
Amputee Wounded in Iraq to Return to Active Duty

by Joseph Shapiro

Capt. David Rozelle with his wife, Kim, and son, Forrest. Courtesy of the Rozelle family


Rozelle had always been a competitive athlete in peak condition. After his injury, he trained even harder. Only one other amputee has been found fit to return to active duty in Iraq. Rozelle will be the first to return. Courtesy of the Rozelle family

Morning Edition, March 4, 2005 · Capt. David Rozelle of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment will soon become the Army's first amputee from a wound suffered in Iraq to return to active duty.

In the past, it's been rare for soldiers who underwent amputations to go back to war, but better prosthetic arms and legs are now allowing wounded soldiers to do more.

At Fort Carson in Colorado, Rozelle said he knows he's returning both as a fighter and as a role model -- for the soldiers under his command and for other troops with amputations.

"I'm breaking the ice for them," Rozelle says. "I don't want to be an anomaly. I want to be the first to go back. But I don't want to be the last."

Rozelle was injured in June 2003, when an anti-tank mine destroyed part of his right foot and leg. He recounts the experience in a new memoir, Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude. The book's first chapter is excerpted below.

Book Excerpt

Note: This excerpt contains language that some may find offensive.

Chapter 1: The Price of Freedom

It's not hard to get your mind focused for a mission when there's a price on your head. It was the day that would change my life forever, 21 June 2003, in Hit (pronounced "heat"), Iraq.

Just a few days before, my translator and I were smoking cigarettes and enjoying some hot tea, waiting with a few sheiks for our weekly situation meeting to begin. I was the de facto sheriff of Hit. As we waited for the rest of the sheiks to arrive, we would discuss the Iran-Iraq war. My translator had been a POW in the war, held for eleven years in an Iranian prison. He had been pressed into military service after his third year of medical school and served as an infantryman. As a POW, he found himself doing procedures in prison with no anesthesia, no sanitary rooms, and few medical instruments. His techniques kept fellow prisoners alive, but were often brutal and crippling.

After getting out of prison, he decided to never practice medicine again. He was a good man, and was proud to be of service to those who had freed him for the second time in his life. After taking a long drag on one of my Marlboros, he looked over at me and said in a low voice, "Captain, do not go on your mission tonight."

I was surprised. "I always lead my men," I responded. "It's still dangerous and I want to command on the ground."

He said, "Your men will be safe, but you will be attacked. If you go, it may be your last mission."

"What the hell are you talking about?" I said angrily. In a loud voice, so that the sheiks in the room could hear, I continued, "You're not trying to threaten me, are you? I will destroy any man who attacks me. Tell me who is saying these things—I'll arrest them today!"

He spoke to me carefully, in a low voice so that others couldn't hear, trying to calm me: "Captain, there are men in town who are planning missions in our mosques, under the command of clerics here and from Ar Ramadi. These men I do not know. But they are dangerous. Some are from Iran, and some are from Syria. It's rumored that they have offered $1,000 U.S. to any man who can kill you, the one who rides in the vehicle with the symbols K6 on the side . . . the one who always wears sunglasses. They recognize you as the leader, and as one who is successful and powerful. . . . Please do not go tonight."

I responded out loud, "You spread the word: I am powerful and I command many men. Out of respect for the people of Hit, I have yet to bring my tanks into this city and show you my full combat capabilities. Let the town know that the whereabouts of these terrorists must be reported in order to protect the innocent civilians of this city. I'm not afraid and I'm not threatened."

On our mission that night, we did arrest several suspicious people and killed two men who tried to attack our tanks with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). After such a wild night, we decided to stay out of the city for a few days. Unfortunately, we were giving the terrorists more time to prepare their next attack.

It was 1630 hours on the day of my final mission. I could tell when my men were ready because the sounds below changed from bolts charged and orders given during the final pre-combat inspection to laughter and tough talk. I never came down from my command post until I heard the distinctive sound of my high-mobility multi-wheeled vehicle (Humvee), distinctive because each Humvee has its own pitch or hum. Upon hearing that sound, I knew that my windshield and binocular lenses were clean, my maps updated with the most current intelligence, my radios checked, and my personal security detachment was loaded, with weapons pointed outward. With so many antennae and barrels protruding, we must have looked like some strange oversized desert insect. But before I walked down to conduct my final inspection, I continued my tradition of kissing the picture of my wife, Kim, listening to the message she had recorded in the frame, and saying a short prayer to God to take care of my unborn child if I did not return.

I was "Killer 6,"which is the code word for the leader of K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. I commanded 139 men, nine M1A2 main battle tanks, 13 M3A2 Cavalry fighting vehicles, two tracked vehicles carrying 120 mm mortar guns, three support tracked vehicles, and five wheeled vehicles.

Before heading out on the mission, I would walk the line of soldiers to look at their faces. It wasn't just to make a final inspection. They needed to see me confident and unafraid of our impending mission. We treated every mission the same, whether we were conducting a traffic control point (TCP) or were capturing terrorists. My men had to be ready for anything.

A few weeks earlier, my boss had informed me that now that we had "stood up" an entirely new police force, we had to train them in police work. This tasking was a V Corps requirement. I was excited about it, tired of conducting patrols where I spent most of my time watching over my shoulder. Training leads to confidence and job comfort. We had done something historic. Within weeks of the end of major combat operations, we had rearmed Iraqi soldiers and were now patrolling the streets with them. They certainly needed training, and training was our task for the night.

We had scheduled the first night of training to start at 1700 hours, as it promised to be cooler than midday. The sun did not set until 2030 or 2100 hours, so we had plenty of time to train. We had planned on teaching for two hours, which we knew would turn into three or four. We always planned twice the amount of time to do anything with local forces.

It was about 1640 hours when we finally headed out the gate of our compound. I was traveling with two of my Humvees, my own and an improvised gun-truck, and two military police (MP) Humvees. As I crossed through the wire at the lead of the convoy, I called my departure report to Squadron Operations Center and told my detachment to lock and load their weapon systems.

On the squadron radio, I reported, "Thunder, this is Killer 6 . . . Killer is departing FOB Eden to Hit police academy, vicinity soccer stadium, with one officer and twenty-one enlisted."

Changing hand microphones, I immediately followed, "Killer, this is Killer 6, lock and load your weapon systems and follow my move."

After getting acknowledgments from the three vehicles following me, I charged my 9 mm Beretta, watching as the bullet slipped easily into the chamber. As was my custom, as a deterrent to possible wrongdoers, I had my pistol outside the window in my right hand, and my left inside on the Bible my father had given me just before deploying to Iraq. Inscribed on the inside cover were the words, "Use it as a tour guide," and in the back I had pasted a picture of my wife and me with my parents, taken just after our deployment ceremony.

It was only about five miles from our Forward Operating Base (FOB) to the town of Hit. Just before we reached the roundabout at the north end of the city, I told my driver to turn left down a dirt road we often used for observation by tanks at night.

I intended to avoid the roundabout in order to avoid detection from any spies at the first intersection. The dirt road took us from one paved road to another, and was only about two hundred meters in length. Just as we reached the far side, I noticed that the gradual terrace that normally allowed easy access to the road was now steeper and recently graded. Looking over the edge, I decided that the vehicles could handle the drop and we started to ease over the ledge.

As we began rolling again, everything exploded.

My right front tire, just under my feet, detonated an anti-tank mine. The mine violently lifted the Humvee off the ground and set it back on the three remaining of four wheels. The blast was so powerful that most of it went out and up from the front tire, launching a door and tire a hundred meters away. Blinded by smoke and dust, I wasn't sure exactly what had just happened, but I knew we were either under attack by RPGs or artillery, or had struck a mine -- and that I was injured.

I looked down and saw blood on my arms, and through my glasses I could see that my bulletproof vest seemed to have absorbed a lot of shrapnel. Everything was quiet. I could not speak. I was in terrible pain. I heard noises coming from my driver, screams of pain and fear. I was more confused than afraid.

Finally, I got my voice and asked, "Is everyone okay?"

My driver responded with more screams, and my translator simply gave me a crazy look.

We needed to get out of the Humvee. I began to pull at my left leg, but I couldn't get it free. My left foot was trapped under the firewall and heater. The right front portion of the vehicle's frame was now on the ground, so I set my right foot out into the sand to get some footing, in order to pull myself and my left leg free. But I couldn't get any footing.

I thought, "F--- . . . Oh, God, I am hurt . . . I have to get out of here . . . Why aren't they shooting at me? We're trapped in a stationary vehicle . . . They've got me . . . F---, that hurts . . . Move, David, move now!"

It felt as if I were setting my right foot into soft mud or a sponge. I looked down to see blood and bits of bone squeezing out of the side of my right boot. I gave one big push and turned to dive into the arms of two brave men who ran selflessly into the minefield to save me.

My good friend and fiercest warrior, Sergeant First Class John McNichols, grabbed me and said, "Don't worry, sir, I've got you."

All I could do was look at the ground. I tried to use my feet, but neither one would bear my weight. I could hear First Sergeant Cobal sighing under the burden of my weight.

I looked into his eyes and said, "I can't walk. I'm f---ed up."

Turning now to face Sergeant First Class McNichols, I said, "My feet are messed up."

Sergeant First Class McNichols smiled at me and said, "It's just a walk in the park, sir."

That was the last time I ever used my right foot.

Excerpted from Back in Action: An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith, and Fortitude, by Captain David Rozelle. Used by permission of Regnery Publishing.


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USMC Capt. Brent Morel
« Reply #74 on: January 09, 2009, 09:03:22 AM »
Profiles of valor: U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Brent Morel
United States Marine Corps Capt. Brent Morel of Martin, Tennessee, was a platoon commander with 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division during the first offensive in Fallujah as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 7 April 2004, Morel's platoon encountered enemy fire from more than 50 insurgents. A rocket-propelled grenade crippled the lead vehicle in the convoy, and the platoon was besieged with mortar and machine gun fire. After ordering the last two vehicles to establish flanking positions for the convoy, Morel left his vehicle to lead an assault across an open field to maneuver into firing positions. His assault eliminated several enemy fighters. But seeing his fellow Marines pinned by enemy fire, he again left the safety of his position in order to counterattack. It was then that he issued his final order: "Cover me. We're assaulting through." Though he took out more enemy fighters, he fell mortally wounded. The Marines rallied and defeated the ambush, killing more than 30 terrorists.

When informed of his son's death, Mike Morel could only ask, "Was he in the front?" Yes, he was. He replied, "I always knew that's where he would be." For his bravery, Capt. Morel was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. A second Navy Cross went to Sgt. Willie L. Copeland III, who fought alongside Morel that day.


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SEAL hell week
« Reply #75 on: January 12, 2009, 05:02:11 PM »


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USMC Sgt. Montoya
« Reply #76 on: January 30, 2009, 10:15:45 AM »
Profiles of valor: U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Montoya

During the Battle for Baghdad in April 2003, United States Marine Corps Sgt. Scott Montoya was serving as a Scout Sniper, Scout Sniper Platoon, 2d Battalion, 23d Marines, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. At one point, enemy fire had Montoya's sniper team pinned down, and he directed his team to return fire while he ran into an open roadway to rescue an Iraqi civilian trapped in a vehicle. Montoya spotted a wounded Marine on the same roadway and led him to safety, and then another wounded Marine, and then another, who was unconscious, and then a fourth, all while shooting at the enemy with his free hand. Later, when Montoya was asked how many bullets went by him as he rescued four fellow Marines, he answered, "About 300." He added, "I saw a hurt Marine and all my training came into play. It wasn't a cognitive thing; I just saw the situation and cared for my Marines." For his "extraordinary heroism," Sgt. Montoya was awarded the U.S. military's second-highest honor, the Navy Cross.


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Petraeus Looks Toward Afghanistan
« Reply #77 on: February 01, 2009, 01:52:45 PM »
Guy Sorman
The New American Soldier
David Petraeus, savior of the surge, turns to Afghanistan.
30 January 2009
The Iraqis call him King David. General David Petraeus earned the somewhat affectionate nickname in 2003 after taking Baghdad and then Mosul—a city whose governor he became, almost coincidentally. When all Iraqi institutions crumbled, a development that the Americans had not foreseen, one guard who had not fled explained to Petraeus that since he had conquered Iraq, it was also up to him to govern Iraq. Petraeus improvised, pursuing a military offensive and reconstruction at the same time. “We discovered that we were strangers in a strange country,” Petraeus tells me.

He admits that the Army knew nothing about Arab civilization. But he drew the necessary conclusions. Later, back in the United States as head of the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Petraeus radically modified American military culture. “My generation was trained to destroy Soviet tanks with helicopters,” he recalls, but such training was useless in the modern struggle with terrorism. For that matter, Petraeus refuses to use the term “War on Terror.” Terrorism, he explains, is just one aspect of a global war by extremists against our values and our ways of life. On the basis of this definition of extremism and of his experience in Iraq, Petraeus rewrote the counterinsurgency manual, the Army’s new Bible. In 2007, George W. Bush sent him back to Iraq to apply his ideas. And as Barack Obama said during his presidential campaign, under Petraeus, the surge “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams.”

Did Petraeus win the war, or at least prevent the United States from losing it? “We must no longer think in terms of victory or defeat,” he says. “The time is past for raising a flag on a hill.” The war against extremism must be measured in terms of “dynamics” and “progress.” In Iraq, Petraeus says, there has been remarkable progress, in collaboration with the new Iraqi army—“progress that is measurable, fragile, and reversible.” But public opinion in the United States, the general observes, has already forgotten how things were one year ago. From 40 attacks a day in Baghdad in 2007, the country has moved to a crime rate comparable with that of certain Latin American countries.

The achievement of this fragile success owes much to an increase in forces, Petraeus says, but above all to the application of new ideas. A graduate of Princeton University as well as West Point, Petraeus is as much an intellectual as a soldier, the hero of a new generation leading the Army. Since his success in Iraq, Petraeus has benefited from an aura similar to that of great officers of the past, such as Eisenhower and MacArthur. Despite constant rumors, he has no political ambitions—yet, anyway—but it remains the case that no American strategic decision gets made these days without hearing Petraeus’s advice.

“My ideas are drawn from our historical memory,” Petraeus says. “At one time, the American army combined the art of war and that of administration”—during the “Indian wars” of the nineteenth century, for example. (The Army retains a positive view of the civilizing purposes of those wars, very different from how Hollywood portrays them.) And when the Army repressed the rebellion in the Philippines in 1900, Petraeus points out, it “fought extremists and, at the same time, built schools, hospitals, and roads.” Another of Petraeus’s inspirations is the French army in Algeria. It is important, he says, not to repeat its errors: torture and attacks on the local population. But it is also important to emulate what Petraeus considers its successes: “bringing security to the people, benefiting them in concrete ways, and living among them.” Petraeus has written the preface to the American edition of Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice (by David Galula, a French officer in Algeria in 1958) and made the book required reading for all officers. He never tires of watching Gillo Pontecorvo’s The Battle of Algiers, a cult film he shows to all his visitors.

Now it is up to Petraeus, after entering Iraq, to get out, under the command of Robert Gates, once Bush’s Secretary of Defense and now Obama’s. Petraeus says that the Army is glad for this continuity. But he questions the expression “get out”; he speaks instead of a “transition” from the American to the Iraqi army, a transition already under way. Yet he admits that it is rare for an army to exit successfully after a war against extremists. He cites two precedents: the British withdrawals from Malaysia and from Oman, two cases where conquered guerrillas gave way to stable states.

As soon as it leaves Iraq, the Army will have to concentrate on Afghanistan. Since September 2007, Petraeus has headed Centcom, the American command that covers the Middle East, central Asia, and Pakistan. Centcom’s headquarters are in Tampa, Florida, but Petraeus is always on the move. Surrounded by an escort of military intellectuals and fully equipped for mobile communication, he runs his meetings from wherever he happens to be, whether on the ground or in the air. “Afghanistan will be a little easier to manage as far as public opinion,” Petraeus says. “But on the ground it will be harder.” Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan has few resources, no tradition of stable government, and few educated elites.

Petraeus is determined to apply his method to Afghanistan: living among the people, bringing them security, establishing a legitimate government, and creating a viable economy. He calls this the Anaconda strategy. Projected on a screen, the scheme resembles a fat snake nourishing itself from all possible elements, from special forces to propaganda operations to school construction. This will require, he says, “not unity of command with NATO, which isn’t possible, but unity of coordination,” which does not exist yet. “If we have the right ideas,” Petraeus says, “they will let us beat the extremists, who have taken advantage of the fact that we are still prisoners of archaic military methods.”

Up until this point, some countries haven’t fully cooperated with NATO because they thought they were sheltered from danger—but their attitude “will change as the extremists expand their area of attack,” Petraeus believes. He is confident that awareness of the extremist danger is becoming clearer. Thus, Saudi Arabia has avoided the destabilization that everyone foresaw two or three years ago by understanding the danger and adopting Petraeus’s multifaceted strategy (“by coincidence,” he says). The same new awareness is now at work in Pakistan and in India. But all progress is reversible; Bosnia, where Petraeus served in 1995, threatens again to explode, for example. The war against extremism will go on for generations.

Guy Sorman, a City Journal contributing editor, is the author of numerous books, including The Empire of Lies: The Truth About China in the Twenty-First Century. Translated from the French by Alexis Cornel.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #78 on: February 13, 2009, 10:09:44 AM »
United States Army Sgt. Hernandez

 Hernandez United States Army Sgt. Omar Hernandez came to America from Mexico with his family when he was six months old. He joined the Army Reserve when he was 19, deploying to Iraq in 2003. He changed to the regular Army in 2004 and returned to Iraq as an infantryman, earning his citizenship after his second tour. On 6 June 2007, during his third tour in Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Hernandez, three other American soldiers and nine Iraqis left Joint Security Station "Maverick" in Ghazaliya on a census patrol.

Just outside the station, however, the team was ambushed. Two Iraqi police were immediately shot. Hernandez returned fire, but was soon shot in the thigh himself. He later said it was "like Forrest Gump -- where he goes, 'Somethin' jumped up and bit me.'" Indeed -- the bullet entered the back and exited the front, just missing his femoral artery, but taking a third of his quadriceps with it. Despite his wound, Hernandez made it to the intersection where the two Iraqi police officers were down, dragging one 15 feet to safety. He then went back for the second, picking him up and carrying him on his shoulder. Hernandez made sure first aid was administered and then resumed firing on the enemy, only later accepting treatment himself. His actions saved the lives of the two Iraqis that day. "I couldn't let anyone die out there," he said. For his heroism, Hernandez received the Silver Star.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #79 on: February 16, 2009, 11:50:48 AM »


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #80 on: February 19, 2009, 06:59:05 AM »
Seems like a good site full of examples of our troops in action:


Specialist Joe Gibson
Silver Star

During a helicopter infiltration, Spec. Gibson’s squad came under intense enemy small arms and machine gun fire.

“The guy that got hit, he actually was a really good friend of mine and I heard him call out and it makes my heart cringe to hear that,” Gibson said.

He got his wounded buddy to safety in a hail of bullets and then he actually stepped on a suicide bomber hiding in the tall grass.

“I stopped him because I thought maybe he was grabbing a knife or something to attack me with,” he said. “I stopped him and that’s when he told me he had a bomb on. He said ‘bomb’ in English. He knew how to say that.

“That pretty much at that moment I thought I was probably going to die, but I didn’t care so whatever, there was nothing I could do about it so I just kept on doing what I was doing staying in control.”

It was hand-to-hand combat. Gibson wrestled with the bomber and killed him before he had a chance to detonate the pack.

For those actions, he’s receiving the Silver Star with his Army wife Samantha looking on.
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 07:06:49 AM by Crafty_Dog »


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Sgt Scott Stream
« Reply #81 on: February 27, 2009, 03:35:38 PM »,0,7802298.story
'If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing...'
February 26, 2009

As President Obama and military officials plan for a marked escalation in the number of American troops in Afghanistan, the powerful words of a fallen soldier show how much the mission continues to mean to the women and men on the ground.

Illinois National Guard Sgt. Scott Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Ill., was killed Tuesday in Afghanistan. Below is a letter he wrote to a friend on New Year's Eve. The Tribune received a copy of the letter from Stream's mother.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 9:30am

A strange thing...

When I think about what surrounds me, the institutional corruption, the random violence, the fear and desperation. I feel the reasons why I am here more and more sharply. As we grow in our soldiers skills, surviving by finding the hidden dangers, seeing the secret motives and the shifting politics... we grow a set of skills that is unique and powerful in this situation.

We also see what you cannot see in the States, you are surrounded by the love of Christ and faith in freedom and humanity, like a fish you think water is 'a puff of air' because it is always there, you do not notice it... we who are out of the water look back and see the world we love surrounded by enemies, poison and envy that wants to fall on you like a storm of ruin.

We who joined with vague notions of protecting our country see how desperate the peril, how hungry the enemy and how frail the security we have is. So the more I love you all the more I feel I must keep fighting for you. The more I love and long for home the more right I feel here on the front line standing between you and the seething madness that wants to suck the life and love out of our land.

Does that mean I cannot go home? I hope not, because I want this just to be the postponement of the joy of life, not the sacrifice of mine. If it costs me my life to protect our land and people then that is a small thing, I just hope that fate lets me return to the promise land and remind people just how great our land is.

War is a young mans game, and I am getting an old mans head... it is a strange thing. I just hope that I am not changed so that I cannot take joy in the land inside the wire when I make it home. I want to be with you all again and let my gun sit in the rack and float on my back in a tube down a lazy river...


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #82 on: February 27, 2009, 04:40:36 PM »
I am humbled and awed and immensely thankful that this nation still produces men like this.


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Sgt Malone
« Reply #83 on: March 20, 2009, 10:20:35 AM »
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Sgt. Malone
United States Army Sergeant First Class Ed Malone was serving with the 3rd Platoon, Grim Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2005 and was conducting a joint combat patrol with the Iraqi Army in the extremely hostile Surai district of Tal'Afar, when the unit was attacked. Without immediate direct fire support from his Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Malone ordered his men to take a defensive position and return fire. He directed his grenadier to eliminate several enemy targets firing from a rooftop. Malone also repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire -- once to retrieve important equipment, another time to evacuate women and children caught in the crossfire, and finally to drag a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. His actions sped medical treatment and evacuation, saving the soldier's life. Malone refused to give ground until reinforcements arrived, and he and his unit held their position for more than an hour. He led a three-man team to clear a courtyard of enemy fighters, relieving pressure on his unit. There, while administering aid to an enemy combatant, Malone was shot in the foot. For his brave actions that day, Malone was awarded the Bronze Star with combat "V" for valor.


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Sgt Dockery earns Silver Star in Afg
« Reply #84 on: March 26, 2009, 04:19:58 PM »
GI Earns Silver Star for Enemy Charge
 March 20, 2009
Army News Service

BAMBERG, Germany -- Staff Sgt. Lincoln V. Dockery said he didn't even see the grenade that sent shrapnel into his right forearm while charging insurgent fighters in Afghanistan's Korengal valley, Nov. 16, 2007.

"Someone yelled out, and I looked up and saw it coming. My hand went up and a hot, sharp feeling went through," he said.

Dockery, a combat engineer then assigned to a route clearance patrol with Company A of the 173rd Airborne Brigade's Special Troops Battalion, said he decided the injury wasn't major, and continued his charge up a hill into enemy fire and earning a Silver Star for valor. The medal and a Purple Heart were awarded here, March 11.

"I don't want to think about what would have happened had he not been there," said Capt. William Cromie, Dockery's platoon leader that day in Afghanistan. "It would have been a completely different day. While described in the infantry field manual, and taught at every schoolhouse in our career, if asked to charge into an enemy, uphill and within hand grenade range, most people only know yes as a book answer."

Dockery said the description of the mission for which the patrol departed from Forward Operating Base Asadabad in Kunar Province that day sounded like the description of their mission for any other day: "Out looking for bombs."

"My only concern was for the guys who worked under me," the 25-year-old Runnemede, N.J., native stated.

His concern became reality when the lead vehicle on the mission, a Husky mine-detecting vehicle, activated an improvised explosive device. Rocket-propelled grenades immediately started hitting the damaged vehicle and it became clear the convoy was in the middle of an ambush.

"Across [a nearby river] we could see RPGs and small-arms fire coming at us," Dockery said. "But when I looked over to the right, I could see that RPGs were hitting our side of the vehicle."

Dockery determined that another enemy fire team was hidden much closer, and that a quick decision had to be made.

"I realized the enemy was actually 20 meters from our position," he said. "If we didn't assault the hill they were attacking from, they would have taken us out. They couldn't miss with their weapons they were so close."

Dockery said his first move was to investigate the lead vehicle's driver, Pfc. Amador Magana, who could have been seriously injured or killed by the IED blast.

"I could see RPGs and rounds impacting all over the vehicle, and the front windshield was about to cave in from all the (AK-47) bullets," Dockery said.

Sneaking around from the other side and climbing up the back tire, he knocked on the window and saw that Magana was barely conscious, but not wounded. Magana managed to give a thumbs-up, he said, and soon stood up, manned his M-249 machine gun and returned fire on the enemy.

Dockery said he then made his decision to storm the hill.

The sergeant began making his way up the hill with one of his Soldiers, Spc. Corey Taylor, as their team members provided support from the convoy.

During the charge Dockery was injured, but he kept going, through hand grenade exchanges and incoming RPGs.

"The shrapnel didn't really hurt initially. We also had to dig shrapnel out of Taylor's leg later," he said.

The pair low-crawled the rest of the way up, watching bullets kick up rocks and dirt all around them, then pushed the enemy back from their position and found the IED command detonator and wire.

Indirect fire, air strikes and other close air support was called in later to deal with about 30 fleeing fighters, but Dockery's assault kept everyone else from the patrol alive.

"Hopefully anybody would have done the same thing I did that day," Dockery said, downplaying his role in the event.

Cromie, who was awarded a Silver Star July 12, 2008 for his own actions in Afghanistan that day, sees it differently. He said Dockey was nothing less than a hero.

Before the mission, Cromie had put Dockery in charge of his own squad and made him a patrol leader for the eight months the unit performed route clearance operations.

"I had an insurmountable amount of trust in him," Cromie said. "He was the most combat proven NCO in the platoon."

A brand new officer at the time, Cromie said having such a competent NCO was amazing, and that he will measure every one he works with up to Dockery.

"He's the best at what he does," the captain said.

Dockery has lived in Bamberg for eight years with his wife Dominika and son and daughter, Lincoln, 4, and Pria, 2. He said plans to stay there the rest of his life.

© Copyright 2009 Army News Service


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #85 on: May 21, 2009, 02:48:21 PM »
The Class of '44
"I am well aware of the toil and blood and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means...." --John Adams

Dartmouth Seal, c1773
Dartmouth College is one of our nation's finest academic institutions. This iconic Ivy League school in Hanover, New Hampshire, was established in 1769 and is one of nine Colonial Colleges founded prior to the American Revolution.

Dartmouth was named in honor of William Legge, the Second Earl of Dartmouth and, like Harvard, Princeton and Yale, was established as a Christian institution. Legge was a primary benefactor of the ministry of Dartmouth's founder, Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, who established the institution "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land ... and also of English Youth and any others."

Dartmouth has produced many notable graduates over the years, including 164 members of the U.S. House and Senate, and a long list of cabinet secretaries and jurists.

But among the most distinguished of Dartmouth's graduates would be those of the Class of 1944. Although they will observe their 65th reunion this year, the Class of '44 never walked for a commencement. Neither did the Class of '43 before them, or '45 after them.

World War II interrupted their lives.

In 1940, there were 699 freshmen enrolled for Dartmouth's Class of '44, but in the years prior to their scheduled commencement, the entire class departed -- most to serve in WW II or in some capacity with the war-related industrial surge. By 1944, the Navy had requisitioned most of Dartmouth's teaching space for training its own personnel.

I have a particular reverence for the members of Dartmouth's Class of '44 because my father is one of them.

Dad joined the U.S. Navy in 1942. He was called to active duty in '43 and spent two years training to become a Naval Aviator. His two brothers also joined the armed services -- one left Princeton to become an Army officer and their younger brother joined the Marines.

My grandfather was among the first Naval Aviators, and he offered my Dad this essential advice when on final approach for a carrier trap: "If you have to sneeze, do it with your eyes open."

My father says that while most fighter pilots were certain they were bullet proof (that has not changed), he realized early on how dangerous and sometimes unforgiving the war birds they flew could be.

While leading a flight of six Wildcats out for their first carrier trials, the pilot ahead of him in the landing order experienced some difficulty, veered sharply to the left and crashed into the water. Dad took an automatic wave-off and said that the time it took him to come around for another approach was sobering.

Dad received his Wings of Gold and his ensign commission in early '45 and shortly thereafter transitioned to the F4U Corsair (a difficult plane to fly but one which had given the Navy an 11:1 kill ratio over the Pacific). He and his fellow aviators prepared for their Pacific Fleet assignment in advance of "Operation Downfall," the anticipated Allied invasion of Japan, which U.S. war planners feared might cost as many as a half-million casualties.

Dad knew that odds were he would be one of them.

Thankfully, two months before the planned invasion, a top-secret weapon was deployed over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While the atomic bombs dropped on Japan killed more than 200,000 enemy combatants and civilians, it is estimated that as many as 750,000 casualties, both Allied and Japanese, were avoided by using those weapons.

I did not fully understand how strongly my father felt about those bombings until their 50th anniversary, when the Smithsonian Institution prepared a major exhibit to commemorate the events. There was a movement afoot to water down the exhibit so as to not offend Japanese visitors. My father was infuriated by the thought of a politically correct whitewash. I share his contempt for historical revisionism, but inquired about his reaction just the same, and he responded, "Because if not for those bombs, I would likely not be here; thus neither would you."

I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Class of '44 and all of the Greatest Generation, but also to naval aviation. You see, back stateside shortly after the Japanese surrendered, my Dad took leave (actually he was AWOL, having asked one of his Corsair squadron wingmen to complete his PT and flights). He went to visit his sister at a nearby college. While there, he looked up the sister of that wingman who was filling for him, and later married her. Ten years later, she delivered me into the world.

Though God called my mom to His side in 1989, my dad, now 86, continues to live every day with an irrevocable spirit of optimism and has been blessed with a second wife who honors the first through her love and devotion to my father and our family.

Two weeks ago, Dad was, again, staring at his own fate, the result of a serious infection. But as I sat with him in those touch-and-go days, I watched him cling tenaciously to that optimism, which has characterized his entire life. He did not waver once, and showed no fear. I know he is grateful for the life he has lived, and the one waiting on him, and he was content to have his fate in God's hands.

Selfishly, I am very thankful that, by the Grace of God in answer to the prayers of many, he pulled through and is recovering well. Selfish I say, because I want as many more days with him as our Creator will allow.

Dad is a tough old guy, and I have no doubt that he'll be in attendance at his Class of '44 reunion this summer. Of his original 699 classmates, most went on to complete their degrees after the war. Amazingly, some 226 are still with us today, and many of them will be at that reunion.

Notably, however, some never had a chance to complete their degrees after WWII.

George Barton was killed in action over England. Roger Blood was KIA in the Pacific. Joel Coffin was KIA in Italy. Earle Cunningham was killed in a training flight over Arizona. Richard Dargle was KIA over France. Richard Farnsworth was KIA over the Pacific. Juels Finnell was killed in a carrier crash landing in the Atlantic. George Galbraith was killed in a training flight over Mississippi. Kevin Gough was KIA over Germany. James Hays was killed in a training flight over California. Robert Holman was KIA over England. Stephen Holmes was KIA at Iwo Jima. Houghton Letts was KIA in Europe. Edwin McGowan was MIA over the Pacific. William Mackoff was KIA at Iwo Jima. Robert Mulhern was KIA in North Africa. Richard Redington was killed in a transport crash in Iceland. John Shellenberger was killed in a training flight over Georgia. George Slusser was KIA over Ryukyus. Henry Urion was killed in a training flight over Tennessee. Ray Wilken was KIA over Germany. Frederick Wulfekuhler was KIA in New Caledonia. Lloyd Wyatt was KIA at Okinawa.

There are many others from the Class of '44 about whose sacrifice I do not know.

Indeed, theirs was the Greatest Generation, not only because of their enormous sacrifice during WWII, but because those who survived came home and, in the wake of that catastrophic event, set about building the mightiest powerhouse of economic and political liberty in the history of the world -- much of which has been squandered by recent generations.


In 2009, Dartmouth had 4,300 undergraduate students enrolled in liberal arts curricula and 1,200 students in graduate programs. The College will hold its 235th commencement in June and will award approximately 1,000 undergraduate and 500 advanced degrees.

It is my fervent prayer that on this and every Memorial Day, each of those young people, and all of our countrymen, will renew their gratitude for every generation of American Patriots who have bequeathed to us a legacy of liberty defended with great "toil and blood and treasure."

Indeed, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." (Luke 12:48)

Please join our PatriotPost.US editors and staff, and millions of Patriots across our great nation, by dedicating some time this Memorial Day for reverence and prayer. Flags should be flown at half-staff until noon, your local time.


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US Army PFC Moss
« Reply #86 on: July 10, 2009, 11:08:57 AM »
Profiles of Valor: U.S. Army Pfc. Moss
Moss with family

Pfc. Channing Moss of the United States Army was serving in Afghanistan in March 2006 when disaster struck. His convoy was attacked by Taliban fighters with small arms and rocket propelled grenades. Moss, manning an MK 19 machine gun in the turret of his Humvee, was struck by an RPG -- and survived. Though Moss was impaled through the abdomen with live ordnance, his comrades didn't leave him to die. Army regulations dictate that MEDEVAC choppers should never carry a wounded soldier with a live round in him, yet the flight crew did just that. "[A]t the time, I really didn't think about it," said flight medic Sgt. John Collier, then a specialist. "I knew [the RPG] was there but I thought, if we didn't do it, if we didn't get him out of there, he was going to die." Protocol also dictates that soldiers in Moss's condition be placed in a sandbagged bunker and considered "expectant" -- expected to die. But Maj. John Oh, 759th Forward Surgical Team general surgeon and a naturalized Korean immigrant, performed the life-saving surgery while wearing body armor and a helmet and assisted by a member of the explosive ordnance disposal team and other brave volunteers.

The Military Times has more on this incredible story here and a moving video here (warning: graphic content).

Three months after surviving the attack, Moss witnessed the birth of his second daughter, Ariana. That would not have been possible without the heroic efforts of Maj. Oh, Sgt. Collier and the crew of the 159th Medical Company. "They saved my life," said Moss. "I hope God watches over them if they get deployed." Indeed.


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #87 on: July 12, 2009, 06:45:52 PM »
Respects to our Brit Brothers.

UK hospital in Afghanistan copes with bloodiest day

Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:23pm IS
* Camp hospital deals with 30 casualties
* Wounded taken to Kabul and Britain

By Peter Graff
CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan, July 12 (Reuters) - More than 30 wounded British soldiers were flown into Camp Bastion off the battlefield in Afghanistan and the operating theatre went through more than 100 pints of blood products over the weekend.
In the bloodiest day in the history of the British war effort in Afghanistan, eight soldiers were killed on Friday.
Doctors, nurses and staff at the field hospital at Britain's Camp Bastion worked round the clock, sometimes 15-16 staff tending to a single badly injured patient.
The 33-bed hospital was already almost full when the carnage began, but never overflowed. Almost as quickly as helicopters arrived from the battlefield, planes and other aircraft took stabilised casualties to Kabul or Birmingham in Britain.
"We've had some very badly injured young people go back to Birmingham, and go back to Birmingham in very good shape. And I think there's no question that the hospital system has saved lives," said Colonel Peter Mahoney, the hospital's director, a professor of anaesthesiology and airborne soldier.
The battlefield casualties -- the most a British military hospital has coped with in a single day since the 1982 Falklands War -- has led to questions back home about a war that has had lukewarm public support.
But commanders say they expected a surge of casualties this summer, part of what they aim to be a decisive push to take advantage of U.S. reinforcements and seize Taliban-held territory ahead of an Afghan presidential election next month.
Taliban casualty figures were not immediately available.
Britain and the United States have launched simultaneous operations this month in Afghanistan's most violent province, Helmand, nearly half of which was under Taliban control until this month.
The British "Operation Panther's Claw" has met tough resistance from Taliban home-made bombs and sniper positions. Fighters have also struck back elsewhere in the province.

A Taliban homemade bomb struck a British foot patrol before dawn on Friday, killing one soldier instantly and wounding several others. When troops attempted to evacuate, they were hit by another bomb, killing a stretcher bearer and one of the wounded casualties.
Another bomb planted in a field prevented a medivac helicopter from landing, so troops had to bring the wounded back to base to fly them out. Two more soldiers later died of wounds. Five others and an interpreter were injured.
Two other roadside bombs killed another three soldiers in other parts of the province.
Captain Jac Solghan, a nurse from the U.S. Air Force working at the British hospital, said he worked 32 hours straight from 2:00 a.m. on Saturday, looking after patient arrivals from the battlefield and their evacuations to hospitals further on.
"We'd just stay and keep working and working," he said. "That morning the hospital had not quite full capacity. By the time we ended the day, the hospital was still full and we were still pushing patients out."
Mahoney said the hospital had been warned in advance that a big operation was being planned, and had mobilised additional staff in expectation of a surge in casualties.
"There's no doubt it has been wearing. But none of the staff have ever complained and said they hadn't wanted to do it. Everybody's risen up to the occasion," Mahoney said.


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Brits in Helmland
« Reply #88 on: July 15, 2009, 04:25:53 PM »
'It was like Saving Private Ryan': British soldier recalls Helmand rocket grenade

Trooper Anthony Matthews describes being hit and having to apply tourniquet during Afghanistan offensive

Richard Norton-Taylor
Wednesday 15 July 2009 18.06 BST

A British soldier injured in fierce fighting in the biggest offensive against the Taliban since the start of the conflict in 2001 has given a first-hand account of his ordeal.

Trooper Anthony Matthews, 20, of the Light Dragoons, was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during Operation Panther's Claw in Helmand province last week. He described how he managed to apply a tourniquet to his leg wound and to that of an injured comrade as he returned gunfire.

On that day, 7 July, Matthews's close friend Christopher Whiteside, 22, was killed by an improvised bomb in a separate operation in Gereshk.

The number of British soldiers seriously wounded rose significantly last month, according to figures released todayby the Ministry of Defence. A total of 13 were "very seriously" or "seriously" wounded in action, with their lives being "imminently in danger" or their injuries a cause for "immediate concern".

A further 46 soldiers were admitted to field hospitals last month. However, the figures do not reveal the total number of soldiers with injuries conventionally regarded as serious, including the loss of limbs. The figures for July are likely to be worse, defence officials acknowledge.

Matthews, nicknamed "Bulletproof Tony", has returned home to Dunston, Gateshead, with a cricket ball-sized wound after a month of fighting that has claimed the lives of 17 British soldiers.

Recovering from surgery to the blast wound on his left leg, Matthews said he had feared for his own life.

He said: "There aren't many people can tell the tale of getting hit by a grenade. I've just been very lucky. We came out of the compound we had taken over, and there was a tree line that we used as cover. My mates were beside me at either side, and then all I remember is hearing a massive bang.

"There was dirt all over their faces and they were screaming. It was like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan. My ears had gone and I looked at my friend and I could see he had been hit badly. I turned and looked down at my leg and my pants were all broken. I put a tourniquet on while I was still shooting."

The Light Dragoons were based near Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. During the early hours of 7 July, his platoon stepped into an ambush. A rocket-propelled grenade seriously wounded Matthews and his friend, Trooper Aaron Bradley.

"When the bullets are whizzing past it's terrifying," said Matthews. "They sound like bees flying past your ears, and then you hear them land and it sounds like someone clapping their hands."

After being hit, he said, "it was just adrenaline. I didn't feel anything. I stabbed myself with morphine and held on until the helicopters came. They got us back to Camp Bastion in four minutes."

After treatment there he was flown to Birmingham's Selly Oak hospital, where an operation sealed a deep wound across the back of his left leg. A few days before he was hit by the grenade, Matthews had been on a foot patrol behind a Scimitar tank which was blown up by a roadside bomb. His arms were hit by shrapnel.

He said: "No one was killed or even injured badly that time, amazingly. A team came out to clear the area and make sure it wasn't a 'daisy chain', where a number of bombs are linked to a single command and control wire.

"It's proper war out there. One time it took us from first light until last light just to move 800 metres. We were in constant contact with the enemy."

His house was decked out in Union flags to welcome him home, and he is now recuperating alongside his mother, Karine, brother Kallum, 13, and girlfriend Sam, 20.


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« Reply #90 on: July 28, 2009, 08:09:15 AM »
Published: July 27, 2009
The sight was not that unusual, at least not for Mosul, Iraq, on a summer morning: a car parked on the sidewalk, facing opposite traffic, its windows rolled up tight. Two young boys stared out the back window, kindergarten age maybe, their faces leaning together as if to share a whisper.

Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute, demonstrated a test used to determine the characteristics of service members who might have exceptional abilities at detecting roadside bombs.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day.” Sgt. Dan Gomez, speaking about when he and others sensed something was amiss and ended up avoiding a roadside bomb.

The soldier patrolling closest to the car stopped. It had to be hot in there; it was 120 degrees outside. “Permission to approach, sir, to give them some water,” the soldier said to Sgt. First Class Edward Tierney, who led the nine-man patrol that morning.

“I said no — no,” Sergeant Tierney said in a telephone interview from Afghanistan. He said he had an urge to move back before he knew why: “My body suddenly got cooler; you know, that danger feeling.”

The United States military has spent billions on hardware, like signal jamming technology, to detect and destroy what the military calls improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s, the roadside bombs that have proved to be the greatest threat in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, where Sergeant Tierney is training soldiers to foil bomb attacks.

Still, high-tech gear, while helping to reduce casualties, remains a mere supplement to the most sensitive detection system of all — the human brain. Troops on the ground, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many I.E.D. attacks, and, like Sergeant Tierney, they often cite a gut feeling or a hunch as their first clue.

Everyone has hunches — about friends’ motives, about the stock market, about when to fold a hand of poker and when to hold it. But United States troops are now at the center of a large effort to understand how it is that in a life-or-death situation, some people’s brains can sense danger and act on it well before others’ do.

Experience matters, of course: if you have seen something before, you are more likely to anticipate it the next time. And yet, recent research suggests that something else is at work, too.

Small differences in how the brain processes images, how well it reads emotions and how it manages surges in stress hormones help explain why some people sense imminent danger before most others do.

Studies of members of the Army Green Berets and Navy Seals, for example, have found that in threatening situations they experience about the same rush of the stress hormone cortisol as any other soldier does. But their levels typically drop off faster than less well-trained troops, much faster in some cases.

In the past two years, an Army researcher, Steven Burnett, has overseen a study into human perception and bomb detection involving about 800 military men and women. Researchers have conducted exhaustive interviews with experienced fighters. They have administered personality tests and measured depth perception, vigilance and related abilities. The troops have competed to find bombs in photographs, videos, virtual reality simulations and on the ground in mock exercises.

The study complements a growing body of work suggesting that the speed with which the brain reads and interprets sensations like the feelings in one’s own body and emotions in the body language of others is central to avoiding imminent threats.

“Not long ago people thought of emotions as old stuff, as just feelings — feelings that had little to do with rational decision making, or that got in the way of it,” said Dr. Antonio Damasio, director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California. “Now that position has reversed. We understand emotions as practical action programs that work to solve a problem, often before we’re conscious of it. These processes are at work continually, in pilots, leaders of expeditions, parents, all of us.”

Seeing What Others Miss

The patrol through Mosul’s main marketplace never became routine, not once, not after the 10th time or the 40th. A divot in the gravel, a slight shadow in a ditch, a pile of discarded cans; any one could be deadly; every one raised the same question: Is there something — anything — out of place here?

Clearing a road of bombs is one of the least glamorous and most dangerous jobs on the planet. It is also one of the most important. In May, coalition forces found 465 of them in Afghanistan and 333 in Iraq. The troops foiled more than half the traps over all — but about 10 percent of the bombs killed or maimed a soldier or a Marine.

“We had indicators we’d look for, but you’d really have to be aware of everything, every detail,” said Sergeant Tierney, whose unit was working with the Iraqi police in that summer of 2004.

In recent years, the bombs have become more powerful, the hiding places ever more devious. Bombs in fake rocks. Bombs in poured concrete, built into curbs. Bombs triggered by decoy bombs.

“On one route sweep mission, there was a noticeable I.E.D. in the middle of the road, but it was a decoy,” said Lt. Donovan Campbell, who in 2004 led a Marine platoon for seven months of heavy fighting in Ramadi and wrote a vivid book, “Joker One,” about the experience. “The real bomb was encased in concrete, a hundred meters away, in the midst of rubble. One of my Marines spotted it. He said, ‘That block looks too symmetrical, too perfect.’ ”

Lieutenant Campbell had the area cleared and the bomb destroyed.

“Unless you know what rubble in that part of Iraq looks like, there’s no way you’d see that,” he said. “I had two guys, one we called Hound Dog, who were really good at spotting things that didn’t fit.”

Soldiers looked for roadside bombs in Afghanistan. Troops, using only their senses and experience, are responsible for foiling many roadside bomb attacks.
Brain Power
The Gut Feeling
For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

The men and women who performed best in the Army’s I.E.D. detection study had the sort of knowledge gained through experience, according to a preliminary analysis of the results; but many also had superb depth perception and a keen ability to sustain intense focus for long periods. The ability to pick odd shapes masked in complex backgrounds — a “Where’s Waldo” type of skill that some call anomaly detection — also predicted performance on some of the roadside bomb simulations.

“Some of these things cannot be trained, obviously,” said Jennifer Murphy, a psychologist at the Army Research Institute and the principal author of the I.E.D. study. “But some may be; these are fighters who become very sensitive to small changes in the environment. They’ll clear the same road every day and notice ridiculously subtle things: this rock was not here yesterday.”

In a study that appeared last month, neuroscientists at Princeton University demonstrated just how sensitive this visual ability is — and how a gut feeling may arise before a person becomes conscious of what the brain has registered.

They had students try to pick out figures — people or cars — in a series of photos that flashed by on a computer screen. The pictures flashed by four at a time, and the participants were told to scan only two of them, either those above and below the center point, or those to the left and right. Eye-tracking confirmed that they did just that.

But brain scans showed that the students’ brains registered the presence of people or cars even when the figures appeared in photos that they were not paying attention to. They got better at it, too, with training.

Some people’s brains were almost twice as fast at detecting the figures as others’. “It appears that the brain primes the whole visual system to be strongly sensitive to categories of visual input,” kinds of things to look for, said Marius V. Peelen, a neuroscientist at Princeton and a co-author of the study with Li Fei-Fei and Sabine Kastner. “And apparently some people’s visual system processes things much faster than others’.”

Something in the Air

A soldier or Marine could have X-ray vision and never see most I.E.D.’s, however. Veterans say that those who are most sensitive to the presence of the bombs not only pick up small details but also have the ability to step back and observe the bigger picture: extra tension in the air, unusual rhythms in Iraqi daily life, oddities in behavior.

“One afternoon I remember turning down a road in Baghdad we were very familiar with, and there’s no one out — very creepy for that time of day,” said Sgt. Don Gomez, a spokesman for the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who took part in the invasion and later, in 2005, drove a general in and around Baghdad.

Trash was heaped in a spot along the street where Sergeant Gomez and other drivers in the convoy had not seen it before, so they gave it a wide berth.

“We later called it in to an explosives team and, sure enough, they found one and detonated it — the thing left a huge crater,” he said.

As the brain tallies cues, big and small, consciously and not, it may send out an alarm before a person fully understands why.

In a landmark experiment in 1997, researchers at the University of Iowa had people gamble on a simple card game. Each participant was spotted $2,000 and had to choose cards from any of four decks. The cards offered immediate rewards, of $50 or $100, and the occasional card carried a penalty. But the game was rigged: the penalties in two of the decks were modest and in the other two decks were large.

The pattern was unpredictable, but on average the players reported “liking” some decks better than others by the 50th card to the 80th card drawn before they could fully explain why. Their bodies usually tensed up — subtly, but significantly, according to careful measures of sweat — in a few people as early as about the 10th card drawn, according to the authors, Dr. Damasio; his wife, Dr. Hanna Damasio; Dr. Antoine Bechara; and Dr. Daniel Tranel.

In a study published in May, researchers at King’s College in London did brain scans of people playing the gambling game used in the University of Iowa study. Several brain regions were particularly active, including the orbitofrontal cortex, which is involved in decision making, and the insula, where the brain is thought to register the diverse sensations coming from around the body and interpret them as a cohesive feeling — that cooling sensation of danger. In some brains, the alarm appears to sound earlier, and perhaps more intensely, than average.


Page 3 of 3)

Gut feelings about potential threats or opportunities are not always correct, and neuroscientists debate the conditions under which the feeling precedes the conscious awareness of the clues themselves. But the system evolved for survival, and, in some people, is apparently exquisitely sensitive, the findings suggest.

For all that scientists have studied it, the brain remains the most complex and mysterious human organ — and, now, the focus of billions of dollars’ worth of research to penetrate its secrets.

This is the third article in a series that is looking in depth at some of the insights these projects are producing.

Mastering the Fear

One thing did not quite fit on the morning of Sergeant Tierney’s patrol in Mosul. The nine soldiers left the police station around 9 a.m., but they did not get their usual greeting. No one shot at them or fired a rocket-propelled grenade. Minutes passed, and nothing.

The soldiers walked the road in an odd silence, scanning the landscape for evidence of I.E.D.’s and trying to stay alert for an attack from insurgents. In war, anxiety can run as high as the Iraqi heat, and neuroscientists say that the most perceptive, observant brain on earth will not pick up subtle clues if it is overwhelmed by stress.

In the Army study of I.E.D. detection, researchers found that troops who were good at spotting bombs in simulations tended to think of themselves as predators, not prey. That frame of mind by itself may work to reduce anxiety, experts say.

The brains of elite troops also appear to register perceived threats in a different way from the average enlistee, said Dr. Martin P. Paulus, a psychiatrist at the University of California, San Diego, and the V.A. San Diego Healthcare System. At the sight of angry faces, members of the Navy Seals show significantly higher activation in the insula than regular soldiers, according to a just-completed study.

“The big question is whether these differences perceiving threat are natural, or due to training,” Dr. Paulus said.

That morning in Mosul, Sergeant Tierney gave the command to fall back. The soldier who had asked to approach the car had just time enough to turn before the bomb exploded. Shrapnel clawed the side of his face; the shock wave threw the others to the ground. The two young boys were gone: killed in the blast, almost certainly, he said.

Since then, Sergeant Tierney has often run back the tape in his head, looking for the detail that tipped him off. Maybe it was the angle of the car, or the location; maybe the absence of an attack, the sleepiness in the market: perhaps the sum of all of the above.

“I can’t point to one thing,” he said. “I just had that feeling you have when you walk out of the house and know you forgot something — you got your keys, it’s not that — and need a few moments to figure out what it is.”

He added, “I feel very fortunate none of my men were killed or badly wounded.”


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Brit officer makes bayonet kill in Afg
« Reply #91 on: September 14, 2009, 02:19:52 PM »
A British Lieutenant and his bayonet


By Sean Rayment, Defence Correspondent
Published: 9:00PM BST 12 Sep 2009

British officer wins two gallantry awards for fending off Taliban attack with bayonet

A young British officer, Lieutenant James Adamson, who won two gallantry awards while serving in Afghanistan has told how he fended off an enemy attack by bayoneting a Taliban fighter to death.
Lieutenant James Adamson was awarded the Military Cross after killing two insurgents during close quarter combat in Helmand's notorious "Green Zone".

The 24-year-old officer, a member of the 5th battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, revealed that he shouted "have some of this" before shooting dead a gunman who had just emerged from a maize field.
Lt Adamson, who is single and comes from the Isle of Man, was moving between two eight man sections when a group of Taliban fighters attempted a flanking attack

Seconds later and out of ammunition, the lieutenant leapt over a river bank and killed a second insurgent machine-gunner with a single thrust of his bayonet in the man's chest.
The officer was one of 145 members of the armed services who last week received awards in the latest Operational Honours list.
In a graphic description of the intense fighting in Helmand, the officer told of the moment killed the second fighter. He said: "It was a split second decision.
"I either wasted vital seconds changing the magazine on my rifle or went over the top and did it more quickly with the bayonet.
"I took the second option. I jumped up over the bank of the river. He was just over the other side, almost touching distance.
"We caught each other's eye as I went towards him but by then, for him, it was too late. There was no inner monologue going on in my head I was just reacting in the way that I was trained.
"He was alive when it went in – he wasn't alive when it came out – it was that simple."
Recalling his feelings in the moments afterwards Lt Adamson, said: "He was young, with dark hair. He only had kind of whispy hair on his chin, not a proper beard, so he wasn't that old, maybe a teenager.
"Afterwards, when he was dead, I picked up his PKM (Russian-made belt-fed machine gun) machine gun and slung it over my back.
"We then had to wait for more of my men to join us. We thought there could be more Taliban about and we were just watching our arcs of fire, waiting for more to come out of a big field of maize which came right up to the river we had been wading through.
"One of my men, Corporal Billy Carnegie, reached us, looked at the two dead Taliban on the ground and then saw the blood on my bayonet and said "boss what the **** have you been doing?"
The firefight, in July 2008, began during the middle an operation to push the Taliban out of an area close to the town of Musa Qala in northern Helmand.
Lt Adamson's platoon of 25-men, which was leading the assault, had just halted their advance when they were attacked.

He continued: "The Taliban kept on probing us – sending in fighters to attack, first in twos then in fours.
"There was a gap between the two sections and the Taliban realised this and were sending in men to get between the two groups so they could split us up and isolate us.
"Myself and Corporal Fraser 'Hammy' Hamilton were wading nipple deep down a river which connected the two positions. Hammy was ahead when the Taliban fighter with the PKM (Russian machine gun) appeared from a maize field.
"There was an exchange of fire and 'Hammy' fired off his ammunition and then the weight of fire coming from the Taliban forced him under the water.
"The machine-gunner had also gone to ground but was still firing in our direction periodically. I had just caught up when 'Hammy' came up out of the water like a monster of the deep.
"Then another Taliban man came through the maize carrying an AK47. He was only three to four metres away.
"I immediately shot him with a burst from my rifle which was already set on automatic. He went down straight away and I knew I had hit him.
"Hammy said I shouted: 'have some of this' as I shot him but I can't remember that. I fired another burst at the PKM gunner and then that was me out of ammunition as well.
"That was when I decided to use the bayonet on him. It was a case of one second to bayonet him or two seconds to put on a fresh magazine.
"Nothing was really going through my mind but briefly I did think 'if this works out the boys will love it' – as in the rest of the platoon that I commanded.
"The undergrowth is so dense in the 'Green zone' that I often ordered bayonets fixed because you knew the distances between you and the Taliban could be very short. It is also good for morale."
His Military Cross citation read: "Adamson's supreme physical courage, combined with the calm leadership he continued to display after a very close encounter with the Taliban, were of the very highest order.
"His actions also neutralised an enemy flanking attack which could have resulted in casualties for his platoon."
Two weeks earlier Lt Adamson had won a Mention in Dispatches (MID) by leading his men in an ambush against the Taliban in the same area.
It is understood that the young lieutenant is the first member of the armed forces to receive two awards for gallantry during the same operational tour.


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A French soldier's view
« Reply #92 on: September 19, 2009, 10:59:05 AM »
A French Infantryman's View of American Soldiers
Nov 26 Written by: host
11/26/2008 10:46 PM   

Subject: [warrior$] French view
Date: Fri, 21 Nov 2008 08:28:44 -0600
A friend sent this out
Military21 Sep 2008 at 13:56 by Jean-Marc Liotier
American troops in Afghanistan through the eyes of a French OMLT infantryman
The US often hears echoes of worldwide hostility against the application of its foreign policy, but seldom are they reached by the voices of those who experience first hand how close we are to the USA. In spite of contextual political differences and conflicting interests that generate friction, we do share the same fundamental values - and when push comes to shove that is what really counts. Through the eyes of that French OMLT (Operational Mentoring Liaison Teams) infantryman you can see how strong the bond is on the ground. In contrast with the Americans, the French soldiers don't seem to write much online - or maybe the proportion is the same but we just have less people deployed. Whatever the reason, this is a rare and moving testimony which is why I decided to translate it into English, so that American people can catch a glimpse of the way European soldiers see them. Not much high philosophy here, just the first hand impressions of a soldier in contact - but that only makes it more authentic.
Here is the original French article,
and here is my translation :
"We have shared our daily life with two US units for quite a while - they are the first and fourth companies of a prestigious infantry battalion whose name I will withhold for the sake of military secrecy. To the common man it is a unit just like any other. But we live with them and got to know them, and we henceforth know that we have the honor to live with one of the most renowned units of the US Army - one that the movies brought to the public as series showing "ordinary soldiers thrust into extraordinary events". Who are they, those soldiers from abroad, how is their daily life, and what support do they bring to the men of our OMLT every day ? Few of them belong to the Easy Company, the one the TV series focuses on. This one nowadays is named Echo Company, and it has become the support company.
They have a terribly strong American accent - from our point of view the language they speak is not even English. How many times did I have to write down what I wanted to say rather than waste precious minutes trying various pronunciations of a seemingly common word? Whatever state they are from, no two accents are alike and they even admit that in some crisis situations they have difficulties understanding each other.

Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine (Heh. More like Waffle House and McDonalds) - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans.
Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.
And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.
And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch  from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.
(This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.
This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder is surprises the hell out of our enemies.)
We seldom hear any harsh word, and from 5 AM onwards the camp chores are performed in beautiful order and always with excellent spirit. A passing American helicopter stops near a stranded vehicle just to check that everything is alright; an American combat team will rush to support ours before even knowing how dangerous the mission is - from what we have been given to witness, the American soldier is a beautiful and worthy heir to those who liberated France and Europe.
To those who bestow us with the honor of sharing their combat outposts and who everyday give proof of their military excellence, to those who pay the daily tribute of America's army's deployment on Afghan soil, to those we owned this article, ourselves hoping that we will always remain worthy of them and to always continue hearing them say that we are all the same band of brothers".
Much of this the various veterans reading will go 'Well, duh. Of course we do our 'camp chores' and stand our posts in good order. There's a reason for them and if we didn't we'd get our heads handed to us eventually. And, yeah, we're in shape. Makes battle easier. The more you sweat, the less you bleed.'
What is hard for most people to comprehend is that that attitude represented only the most elite units of the past. Current everyday conventional boring 'leg infantry' units exceed the PT levels and training levels of most Special Forces during the Vietnam War. They exceed both of those as well as IQ and educational levels of: Waffen SS, WWII Rangers, WWII Airborne and British 'Commando' units during WWII. Their per-unit combat-functionality is essentially unmeasurable because it has to be compared to something and there's nothing comparable in industrial period combat history.
This group is so much better than 'The Greatest Generation' at war that WWII vets who really get a close look at how good these kids are stand in absolute awe.
So much of 'The scum of the earth, enlisted for drink.'
Everyone complains about the quality of 'the new guys.' Don't. The screw-ups of this modern generation are head and shoulders above the 'high-medium' of any past group. Including mine.
This is 'The Greatest Generation' of soldiers.
They may never be equalled.
I wish to hell this would actually get reprinted in the NYT.



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flying hospital
« Reply #93 on: September 21, 2009, 05:16:17 AM »


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Navy PO2, EOD2 Mike Monsoor
« Reply #94 on: October 28, 2009, 05:10:20 AM »


The Sailor Pictured Below Is Navy Petty Officer PO2 (Petty Officer, Second Class) EOD2 (Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Second Class) "MIKE MONSOOR"

April 5th, 1981 ~ September 29th, 2006

Mike Monsoor,

Was Awarded "The Congressional Medal Of Honor" Last Week, For Giving His Life In Iraq , As He Jumped On, And Covered With His Body, A Live Hand Grenade That Was Accidentally Dropped By A Navy Seal Saving The Lives Of A Large Group Of Navy Seals That Was Passing By!


During Mike Monsoor's Funeral,

At Ft. Rosecrans National Cemetery , In San Diego , California .

 The Six Pallbearers Removed The Rosewood Casket From The Hearse,

And Lined Up On Each Side Of Mike Monsoor's Casket,

 Were His Family Members, Friends, Fellow Sailors, And Well-wishers.

The Column Of People Continued From The Hearse, All The Way To The Grave Site.

What The Group Didn't Know At The Time Was,

Every Navy Seal

(45 To Be Exact)

That Mike Monsoor Saved That Day Was Scattered Throughout The Column!


As The Pallbearers Carried The Rosewood Casket

 Down The Column Of People To The Grave Side.

The Column Would Collapse.

Which Formed A Group Of People That Followed Behind.


Every Time The Rosewood Casket Passed A Navy Seal,

 He Would Remove His Gold Trident Pin From His Uniform,

And Slap It Down Hard,

Ca us ing The Gold Trident Pin To Embed Itself

Into The Top Of The Wooden Casket!

Then The Navy Seal Would Step Back From The Column, And Salute!


Now For Those,

(And Me)

Who Doesn't Know What A Trident Pin Is or What It Looks Like?

Here Is The Definition And Photo!


After One Completes The Basic Navy Seals Program Which Lasts For Three Weeks,

 And Is Followed By Seal Qualification Training,

 Which Is 15 More Weeks Of Training,

Necessary To Continue Improving Basic Skills And To Learn New Tactics And Techniques,

 Required For An Assignment To A Navy Seal Platoon.

After successful completion,

Trainees Are Given Their Naval Enlisted Code,

And Are Awarded The Navy Seal Trident Pin.

 With This Gold Pin They Are Now Officially Navy Seals!

It Was Said,

That You Could Hear Each Of The 45 Slaps From Across The Cemetery!

By The Time The Rosewood Casket Reached The Grave Site,

It Looked As Though It Had A Gold Inlay From The 45 Trident Pins That Lined The Top!


This Was A Fitting End To An Eternal Send-Off For A Warrior Hero!

This Should Be Front-Page News!

Instead Of The Garbage We Listen To And See Every Day.




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Brit Captain Peter Lake
« Reply #95 on: October 28, 2009, 05:43:28 AM »
Second post of the morning:

Resistance hero 'told to leave'

 Capt Lake was known by his French field name Jean-Pierre Lenormand

A British officer who trained French Resistance fighters during World War II was told to "go home" by Charles de Gaulle, newly released files show.
Peter Lake was awarded the Military Cross and France's Croix de Guerre for his actions in the run-up to D-Day.
But just three months after the Allied landings, the leader of Free France told him he had "no business" there.
Mr Lake died in June aged 94, but his account of the meeting has been released by the National Archives.
It is contained within his Special Operations Executive personnel file and describes a meeting with Gen de Gaulle in the town of Saintes, south-west France, on 18 September 1944.
Nom de guerre
Mr Lake, then a captain, spoke fluent French and was known by the field name Jean-Pierre Lenormand.
He decided to join a number of French officers who went along to greet the general, but was surprised by the conversation that followed.

General de Gaulle: "Jean-Pierre, that's a French name."
Mr Lake: "My nom de guerre, mon general."
Gen de Gaulle: "What are you doing here?"
Mr Lake: "I belong to the Inter-Allied Mission for Dordogne, and I am at the moment with Dordogne troops at Marennes, mon general."
Gen de Gaulle: "But what are you doing here?"
Mr Lake: "I am training certain troops for special operations."
Gen de Gaulle: "Our troops don't need training. You have no business here."
Mr Lake: "I obey the orders of my superiors."
Gen de Gaulle: "You have no business here, I say. You have no right to exercise a command."
Mr Lake: "Mon general, I exercise no command."
Gen de Gaulle: "We don't need you here. It only remains for you to leave. You too must go home. Return, return quickly. Au revoir."
Later, Mr Lake noted: "The whole dialogue passed very quickly and in a tone of voice which there was no mistaking.
"It was so unexpected that I must confess I was far too taken aback to reply intelligently, and I think the majority of those present had similar reactions."
 Capt Lake was parachuted into France in April 1944

Despite the incident, Mr Lake was highly regarded by senior Army commanders and was referred to in an official report as "modest, unassuming, but possessed of considerable authority".
"His dust-up with de Gaulle showed him to be a good diplomat, level-headed and intelligent," the report added.
Mr Lake was parachuted into the Dordogne on the night of 9 April 1944 and immediately began training teams of resistance operatives.
To do this he organised "evening classes" in subjects such as sabotage, but recalled that his first sortie was with fighters who were "armed like pirates, behaved like pirates and expected me to do likewise".
After the D-Day landings on 6 June, Mr Lake said the situation became "very precarious" as the Germans stepped up attacks on the resistance.
Nevertheless, in mid-June he carried out a daring operation to blow up a major railway line.
Mr Lake returned to Britain in October 1944 and went on to have a successful career with the UK consular service.


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A son'
« Reply #96 on: November 11, 2009, 07:29:33 PM »
November 8, 2009
A Brief Visit From My Soldier Son

SEVERAL years ago, as Labor Day approached and parents nationwide began that end-of-summer ritual I know all too well — packing the children off to college — I found myself facing a new and particularly fraught task: preparing to return my son not to college but to war, to the mountain passes northeast of Kandahar, Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan.
Instead of going to Staples to compare the features of the latest line of laptops or to pick out an alarm clock as I had done with our older children, I went shopping with Ian in the hunting section of Ray’s Sporting Goods, where we bought every last can of sandstone and olive green spray paint to camouflage his gear.
I am a minister in an affluent suburb of New York City. Nothing in my life had led me to expect that Veteran’s Day would honor the military service of a child of mine. But on Sept. 11, 2001, a morning when we lost many friends and neighbors, Ian left high school and drove to the top of the parking lot at Overlook Hospital in Summit, where he watched the second tower of the World Trade Center come down.
A varsity lacrosse player, he decided in the ensuing months that instead of following the path of his siblings and peers, he would enlist in the Army, the only senior at Summit High School to do so. Eventually he would become an Army scout with the 25th Infantry, doing reconnaissance work in the hunt for Al Qaeda militants.
It is strange when your child can be on the front lines, scouting the mountains of Afghanistan and still able to call you on your cellphone at the beach. But that is what Ian did that August from a satellite phone, the reception so clear it sounded like he was right down the road.
“Dad,” he said. “I’ve got some news.”
“Are you O.K.?”
“Yes, it’s all good. I’m coming home in two weeks on leave. But I need you to talk to Mom.”
“About what?”
“I’m getting married.”
Ian had always been an impulsive, passionate kid, and we knew that he and Brandi had been dating for a year — she was also in the Army in Afghanistan, stationed in Kandahar. So it wasn’t the wedding news that threw us as much as the fact that we would only have two weeks to prepare.
No matter. We assumed that it would be a modest affair, attended only by family and a few friends, given the short notice. But word spread quickly, and soon we found ourselves planning a wedding for 200. Luckily, nearly everyone who found out about the sudden ceremony volunteered to help, which is the only way we were able to get it done.
Ian and Brandi’s route home took them from Kandahar to Uzbekistan to Kuwait City and then to Frankfurt, where they rushed to make a commercial flight to Newark that was being held for them.
The pilot of that plane announced that they were awaiting two soldiers on leave from Afghanistan who were going home to get married, and when Ian and Brandi finally boarded, dressed in their fatigues, the passengers stood and applauded.
At our end, I got choked up to see them still in uniform as they came toward me carrying so little. Unlike our college kids, who can fill a Chevy Suburban and then some with all their clothing, furniture, books and electronics, all of Ian’s and Brandi’s gear fit into two Army backpacks.
When Ian hugged me, he felt strong, very strong.
For the rehearsal dinner, my wife and I and our future in-laws presented a slide show of Ian’s and Brandi’s childhoods — a review of the kind of outdoorsy people they had always been, with a lot of laughter and joking. But in the middle of the show I had a moment of emotional weakness, remembering a similar slide show someone put together for a funeral I had recently attended.
I never wanted to pass around photos of Ian while talking about how great he was when he was alive. The fear of death always hovers over the families of those on active duty. Sometimes you try to bargain with it or push it aside, but it’s always there. All I felt we could do that would be spiritually productive was to celebrate the wonder and goodness of life in the midst of our anxiety. What better occasion to do that than a wedding?
And what a wedding it was. The church filled with Ian’s friends who had delayed returning to college to be there — all beautiful young people, so handsome in their suits and evening dresses, on their way back to Georgetown, Middlebury, Duke and Brown.
They were respectful but surely curious at the spectacle. My son was a bit of a wild man in high school — not a person anyone would have predicted to be the first to marry. And in the college world his friends inhabit, especially the fraternity world, marriage is not exactly at the top of everyone’s list.
In the world of the enlisted men and women, however, a premium is placed on loyalty and steadfast support, and this translates into a high rate of marriage, even among young people who are only in their late teens and early 20s. Every day, from basic training to daily missions, where they depend on one another for survival and success, what really matters are loyalty and people who can be counted on. And so it was for Ian and Brandi.
We had to have the reception at our house as my son was just shy of 21 and could not legally drink. This was nothing new to him; American soldiers in Afghanistan are on dry deployment. They don’t have access to cash, either — just a credit card that can be used at the base.
There is precious little to spend it on anyway. Ian’s unit was hardly ever off duty, and often their missions in the field would go on for weeks at a time in those rugged, hostile mountains, periods during which he and his fellow scouts were self-sufficient and capable of sleeping anywhere at any time.
The evening before he had to return, after we finished buying the camo paint, we drifted over to the gun cases. I asked Ian about the sidearms they use in the Army, and he showed me the Glock 9 millimeter pistol that is standard issue. He told me officers complain about it because people can be shot two or three times and they keep running.
“How does the Army prepare soldiers spiritually to kill people?” I asked.
“You train over and over so that when you get there it isn’t a big deal,” he said.
But I worried for him because I knew it was a big deal. So far he had been able to avoid heavy sustained fire. Considering where he was, though, it seemed inevitable that he would engage in deadly combat, and that he would come back changed.
I wanted to stop and pray for his burden right then and there, but I did not. I just put my hand on his shoulder.
At home later, we had our last family meal before his mother and I would take them to the airport in the morning. He and Brandi were so rested from their two-week leave, so full of energy from being together and ready to make plans for a home. But all of that would have to wait until their tour was over. Back in Afghanistan they wouldn’t see each other for long periods of time, and when they did reunite they would literally set up their tent together. But they never once complained to us about this or anything else.
When I used to take my older kids to college, I’d always have to wake them up and get us all going on the morning of departure. Then there were all the last-minute items they typically needed, as well as cash for some extra bill they hadn’t anticipated. I used to joke that each hug cost me $100.
But the morning we took Ian and Brandi to the airport, my son was the one to wake us. It was well before dawn, but they were packed, ready to go and surprisingly alert, considering how little sleep they’d had. There would be no $100 hug.
As it happened, though, he did have one request involving money, though it was about his money, not mine. After spending a few minutes standing around the coffeepot, he handed me a folder. “Dad,” he said. “I need you to hold on to this for me.”
Inside were the records for a bank account he had opened with their wedding gifts, including the name of the teller if I ever needed to speak to her, and some deposit and withdrawal slips.
“The last couple of things are for you,” he said. “You may want to keep them separate.”
It was a power of attorney that would enable me to access his account in the event of his death.
I know I’m supposed to be a pro in these situations, but I could not stop a despairing rush of anxiety from surging through me. My eyes became blurry, and I had to turn away to regain my composure.
As we drove to the airport, nobody spoke. At the departure terminal, I parked the car and got out, and my wife and I and pulled Ian and Brandi close.
I didn’t want to let go of my son — I feared it might be our last hug. But I knew he needed us to be strong and to support them in what they had to do, so I made myself let go.
I kissed them each on the head and said, “You know who loves you.”
With that they turned and walked into the terminal. Ian still had that shuffle he had as a little boy. Despite the backpack and uniform, I saw him as the toddler he once was wearing footie pajamas and dragging his blanket behind him. But he was no longer that boy. He was a man, not yet 21, who looked as if he could handle anything. He had his arm around his wife in support. And just like that he was gone.
Charles Rush is senior minister of Christ Church in Summit, N.J.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company


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Re: Our Troops in Action
« Reply #97 on: November 11, 2009, 09:11:20 PM »
My eyes got blurry reading that. Must be allergies or something....


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Alejandro Ruiz
« Reply #98 on: November 25, 2009, 06:24:00 AM »
Not that you would know it from reading the MSM, but as I safely type these words there are those who do for us what this man did so long ago:

Soldier stormed Japanese machine gun bunker

By T. Rees Shapiro
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Alejandro R. Ruiz Sr., 85, an Army infantryman in World War II who received the Medal of Honor for single-handedly storming a Japanese machine gun bunker -- twice -- during the Battle of Okinawa, died Nov. 23 at a hospital in Napa, Calif. He had congestive heart failure.

On April 28, 1945, in the last months of the war, Pfc. Ruiz deployed to Okinawa on a mission with his platoon, seeking remnants of a Japanese battalion hiding in fortified emplacements on steep ridges near the village of Gasukuma.

The soldiers were patrolling in a ravine when they were ambushed from a network of concealed pillboxes. Coming under heavy fire, every soldier except Pfc. Ruiz and his squad leader was dead or injured.

Realizing that his standard-issue M1 Garand -- with an eight round clip -- would be insufficient against the more powerful Japanese machine guns, Pfc. Ruiz picked up a Browning automatic rifle and began his solo assault. He calmly walked 35 yards to the bunker. He climbed on top and was prepared to fire into it, but a ruptured cartridge jammed the Browning, according to the Medal of Honor citation.

A Japanese soldier charged him, and Mr. Ruiz beat him down with the broken gun. Pfc. Ruiz tossed the rifle aside and ran back through the grenade explosions and gunfire to where his platoon was pinned down. He retrieved a second weapon, tested it and grabbed some extra cans of ammo before he dashed back.

All of the Japanese guns were now trained on Pfc. Ruiz as he raced back through a hail of gunfire. He was hit in the leg, but he managed to climb back on top of the pillboxes. He jumped from one bunker to the other, spraying bursts of gunfire into the apertures.

Pfc. Ruiz's Medal of Honor citation says that "in the face of overwhelming odds," he single-handedly killed 12 Japanese soldiers and silenced the machine gun nest, saving his fellow soldiers.

President Harry S. Truman gave him the Medal of Honor, the military's highest award for valor, during a ceremony at the White House in June 1946. He also received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
Alejandro Renteria Ruiz was born April 26, 1924, in Loving, N.M., to Mexican immigrants. He spent his career in the Army. He also served in the Korean War and retired as a master sergeant in the mid-1960s. He lived for many years in Visalia, Calif., which named a park in his honor. Most recently, he had been living at the Veterans Home in Yountville, Calif., near Napa.

His marriages to Eliza Martinez and Lilia Flores ended in divorce. Survivors include two children from his first marriage, Celia Ruiz and Alejandro Ruiz Jr., both of Berkeley, Calif.; a sister; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Sgt. Ruiz often recounted the circumstances that led to his Army service. As a teenager working in odd jobs for a cattle farmer in Carlsbad, N.M., he had been tasked to drive a cow to another farm when he became distracted by thoughts of a girlfriend.

He drove, with the cow in tow, straight to Barstow, Tex., 122 miles away, to woo the young woman into marrying him. Sgt. Ruiz was detained, and a judge told him that he would either be sent to jail for kidnapping the cow, or he could enlist in the Army to stay out of trouble. He chose the Army.


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