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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 03:49 pm

Most of us can name war heroes from past conflicts, but—despite living in an era of constant information—identifying heroes in the current war seems difficult, for some reason. Cindy Sheehan may be the world’s best-known protester against the Iraq war, but where are the well-known soldiers?

In advance of Memorial Day weekend, Chuck Simmins puts forward Leigh Ann Hester, Brian Chontosh and Paul Smith. Names we should know.

UPDATE. Cindy Sheehan spent the day campaigning for the release of David Hicks:

Protest organiser Mark Pendleton, from Civil Rights Defence, said Ms Sheehan empathised with Hicks’ family.

“Cindy Sheehan lost her own son in Iraq,” he said.

“She knows what David Hicks’ family must be going through.”

Well, they’ve got so much in common. Sheehan’s son volunteered to serve in a force liberating Iraq from dictatorship; Jew-hating Adelaide bogan Hicks joined al Qaeda.

Posted by Tim B. on 05/25/2006 at 06:17 PM
    1. Hester and others “worked their way down a small canal the enemy was using as an entrenchment, shooting and tossing grenades. At least six of the enemies were killed in this part of the action alone.”

      Like Jacka at Courtney’s post.

      “Early on 19 May the Turks launched a massive counter-attack along practically the entire Anzac line. At about 4 am they rushed Courtney’s Post. Amid frenzied fighting some Turks captured a twelve-yard section of trench, one end of which was guarded by Jacka.

      For several minutes he fired warning shots into the trench wall until reinforcements arrived and, after shouting his instructions, he and three others sprang out into the trench. All but Jacka were immediately hit so he leapt back into the communication trench. A new plan was devised. Two bombs were lobbed at the Turks while Jacka skirted around to attack, from the flank. Amid the smoke and the noise he clambered over the parapet, shot five Turks and bayoneted two as the rest hastily retreated. ‘I managed to get the beggars, Sir’, he reputedly told the first officer to appear.”

      Posted by Rafe on 2006 05 25 at 06:34 PM • permalink


    1. How about Marine Lance Corporal James Miller?

      Posted by Oafish and Infantile on 2006 05 25 at 06:56 PM • permalink


    1. Ah, yes, I know those stories.

      The terrorists who ambushed the convoy were video taping the event, and the camera was captured afterwards.  A video clip from that camera was passed around my section in Kuwait, ending when those HUMMVWs came screaming down the shoulder.  That was simply awe inspiring.  All of the members of Raven 42 were heros that day.  And, not so oddly, the terrorists stopped trying to go toe-to-toe with Coalition forces after that.

      SFC Smith…..I am proud to be associated with him both as a soldier, and as a Combat Engineer myself.  His picture was displayed prominently in our section area for both of those reasons.  God bless him and his family.

      CPT Chontosh, I regret, I only read about.  But I read the reports, and his award, and his is one brave Marine, in the full tradition of the Corps.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 25 at 07:06 PM • permalink


    1. Michael Yon has also written movingly of the heroes of Iraq, and of Afghanistan as well.

      It is to the eternal shame of the MSM that we don’t hear about these people.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 05 25 at 07:13 PM • permalink


    1. But why, RebeccaH, why don’t we hear of them?

      Why does that letter from the Mayor of Tel Afar appear only in the Mudville Gazette?

      Why DO we have to search to find these extraordinary stories of extraordinary men and women?

      Where are the parades? Where are the photo-ops the politicians used to run to to get their mugs beside returning heroes getting medals?

      What has happened to us that the soi-disant “Critical Intellegentsia”,  which claims to have been marginalised by Murdoch and others (vis loony Peter Mann’s comments w/Fran Kelly this morning on ABC) has actually castrated the media, and in the process stripped us all of the privilege of honouring those who serve with such incredible bravery and temper their victories with such compassion?

      What the fuck has happened to us?

      I want to know their names, see their pictures, hear their stories, see their families’ strength and empathise with their sorrow—not 20 years on—right now!

      If they suffer, I want to know because I, however vicariously, should suffer too.

      When they win a battle, big or small, I want to know about it because I—however vicariously—want to share their pride.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 25 at 07:34 PM • permalink


    1. SPC David Orlandini-one of our medics.

      On March 20th 2005 Orlandini was riding on the back of a HEMMT on the way back to FOB Bernstein from FOB Speicher.  The most direct route was closed due to a flooded bridge so the convoy had to take the round about route through Kirkuk.

      Just outside Kirkuk an IED that was buried under the road exploded under the front of the HEMMT, ejecting SGT Paul Thomason and the vehicle driver from the cab.  Orlandini suffered tissue damage from the shock of the explosion in his feet and ankles.

      The HEMMT rolled down the road for about 200 feet while the rest of the convoy, per SOP, moved outside the kill zone and formed “the box” leaving the five soldiers from the HEMMT under small arms fire from the insurgents who activated the IED.

      Unable to walk Orlandini (aka Monkey) crawled to Thomason and the other soldier to administer first aid.  Thomason could speak-unknown to anyone at that point he had inhaled the superheated gasses from the explosion, so Monkey-following his treatment protocols-treated the driver who had a nonserious head wound (remember: the head is vascular so it bleeds a lot and the wounds looked bad).

      The other soldiers from the back of the vehicle returned fire at the insurgents.  By now the convoy commander had organized a rescue party and they returned to the site of the explosion to rescue the trapped soldiers and call for medevac.  Unfortunately SGT Thomason’s injuries were more serious than they appeared and he later died from lung damage.

      For his bravery Orlandini was nominated for the Silver Star.  If you go to this link and scroll to the second page you can see Monkey recieving his Purple Heart.  You probably won’t hear this story anyplace else, his Silver Star was turned down.  I still think that his story is worth telling.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 05 25 at 07:35 PM • permalink


    1. HEROES

      To add All troops serving from the different nations…one in particular that I know, virtually, but that I knowTexas Bob.

      Future hero’s are ready to fulfill their duties. Past hero’s, safe to say, that there is strong possibility that we wouldn’t be here typing, on Mr. Tim Blair’s Blog.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 25 at 07:58 PM • permalink


    1. How about Chuck Yeager’s grandson, currently USMC, who pulled a wounded comrade out of a building in Najaf and then went back in and cleared the entire three-story structure out single-handedly.

      Apples don’t fall far from some trees.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 05 25 at 08:03 PM • permalink


    1. 5 MentalFloss

      Why does that letter from the Mayor of Tel Afar appear only in the Mudville Gazette?

      More to that story, that didn’t make it outside of a small part of the State of Colorado.

      For soldiers, gratitude and praise from an Iraqi mayor

      COLORADO SPRINGS – An Iraqi mayor stood before troops lined up on the lawn at Fort Carson on Friday morning and said only two words in English.

      But those two words brought the crowd to its feet.

      “Thank you.”

      “Are you truly my friends?” he asked through a translator. “Yes. I walk a happier man because you are my friends. You are the world to me. I smell the sweet perfume that emanates from your flower of your strength, honor and greatness in every corner of Tal Afar. The nightmares of terror fled when the lion of your bravery entered our city.”

      Picture and the rest of the ceremony here

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 25 at 08:12 PM • permalink


    1. Thanks for that story, 91B30.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 25 at 08:34 PM • permalink


    1. #9 – Damn, they have a beautiful way with words.

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 05 25 at 08:45 PM • permalink


    1. MentalFloss,

      Unfortunately, this is the way things have been since WWII.  The Korean War isn’t called the Forgotten War just because it isn’t taught or remembered in the history books.  It was virtually ignored by an already war weary America when it was going on.  Viet Nam seemed to slip up on us and was a full-blown war before we knew what was happening.  It was never really popular, but people were convinced, at first, of the merits.  Even when the new media was still positive, we didn’t hear that much.  After the protests took the place of rational discussion and the media turned against the war, we heard nothing.  There were a lot of heroes from Viet Nam that were not recognized.  John K…, no I won’t write his name on the same page as that of heroes.  I’ll just say that there were those who made sure.

      I can only say that we take a great deal for granted. I grew up in the Navy.  My dad used to say that he was paid enormous sums <kof> so that Americans could take their lives for granted.  He didn’t mean that negatively, either.  He said that people shouldn’t have to worry about being attacked while they live their lives.  He thought that Man was meant to be productive, mind his own business, and live life with integrity so that he may earn his happiness.  He was proud to protect a country of such people.

      You are right that there is a difference now.  It isn’t just a matter of taking too much for granted (though that is certainly the case), but of an active denial of the truth and a search for anything that debases our protectors.  I guess the answer is for people who do remember and cherish what is done for us to always speak out for the good.

      In that spirit, I offer my deepest gratitude to those commenting here who have served, or are serving now.  Thank you for standing guard so that my family can rest easy.  Thanks for giving a damn.

      I’m thinking about you Dad, David, James, Jasper, Charley, Bob, and Mary Francis—all my own heroes.

      Posted by saltydog on 2006 05 25 at 09:00 PM • permalink


    1. Jeff-you are very welcome, check your e-mail for, as Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story”.

      Iraq awards statistics-US Army

      Afghanistan awards statistics-US Army.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 05 25 at 09:20 PM • permalink


    1. 11 Dave S.

      Damn, they have a beautiful way with words

      Najim Al Jibouri, does for sure. I have no idea if our men and women over there know of this…Hopefully Texas Bob, can read this and share it.

      As he mentioned yesterday or the day before…most of the troops know what the Iraqis feel. It’s the leftist bastards that don’t know, NOR do they care what the Iraqis OR Afghanis feel.

      They didn’t prior to discontinuation of the Gulf War cease fire OF February 28, 1991, in 2003. They didn’t care about how many Kurds Saddam gassed, or how many Marsh Arabs were killed, or Shi’a, and they could give two shits about them now.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 25 at 09:22 PM • permalink



    1. 91B30

      I second what The_Real_JeffS said…thanks.

      Posted by El Cid on 2006 05 25 at 09:29 PM • permalink


    1. Speaking of Cindy, I saw the celebrity mom herself last night at Melbourne’s “Voices for Peace” forum.

      The full story with photos is up at my blog.

      Part 1 – arriving at the conference.

      Part 2 – Kerry Nettle and Dr Salam Ismael.

      Part 3 – Cindy Sheehan’s speech

      Posted by Jono on 2006 05 25 at 10:45 PM • permalink


    1. One of these posts is not like the others, one of these posts just doesn’t belong.

      Wrong thread, Jono.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 25 at 11:29 PM • permalink


    1. Jason Amerine was a SF A-team captain working with Hamid Karzai, before Karzai was pres, in Oct-Dec 2001 in Uruzgon province. Karzai’s name was good in the area and they were building up an indigenous force in the mountains.  But the townspeople of Tarinkot got ahead of the game, booted their Taliban governor, and invited Karzai and the Americans to dinner.
      While engaged in the big welcoming dinner/chinwag, they learned a convoy of 70 techicals loaded with angry Taliban was coming up from Kandahar, bent on vengeance.  They tried to detach from the festivities to prepare for the Taliban’s arrival, but the locals wouldn’t hear of it.  Finally they managed to break away.  Jason took several of his guys and some Afghans in trucks to a ridge overlooking the pass leading into the valley. Comms SFC Dan Petithory stacked up the F-18s overhead, and when dawn broke and the Taliban vehicles began pouring through the pass, they began hitting them.
      But the Afghans didn’t fully grasp the fearsome unseen power the Americans commanded up in the sky, and were terrified by the numbers of Taliban they saw entering their valley.  They fired up the trucks and bolted. The Americans couldn’t stop them and as Jason put it, staying without the vehicles was “a non-starter.” So they got it and rode back with them, arguing and trying to stop them all the way.
      Back in town, the Afghans got a dressing down from Karzai. The party returned to a closer ridge, the prior ridge no longer being accessible. Petithory and the American jets resumed operations.  Some Taliban got past, but other team members and Afghan fighters who had set up a perimeter before the town got them, and all was good.  They later counted 30-odd destroyed vehicles.  The rest hightailed it back to Kandahar, dogged all the way by the jets. The town was saved. That was mid November 2001.
      This team met tragedy on Dec. 5, just north of Kandahar, when a newly arrived USAF TACP, or forward observer, accidentally called a B-52’s 2000-lb bomb on their own position. Petithory and two other Green Berets were killed, along with a number of Afghan fighters. Jason and several others were wounded.
      More heroes:
      In Iraq, I rode with A Co. 4/64 Armor, 2nd Brigade, 3rd ID.  The company’s key combat leaders were CO Capt Wolford and 1st Platoon Sgt SFC Jonathan Lustig.  Both highly aggressive though also cautious about civilians and about their own men.  Wolford however liked to get in close and developed a reputation for fighting from the hatch of his behemoth Abrams tank with pistol and grenades.  The other officers teased him about it. But he probably saved my life when he used a grenade to take out an recoilless rifle crew in a roadside ditch that was about to fire one up the ass of my vehicle at al Hindiyah.
      By the time the company led the assault on the palace complex in downtown Baghdad on April 7, 2003, Lustig’s turret was no longer traversing, so his gunner would direct his driver how to pivot so they could get their shots off. Before dawn on April 8, the entire company fought off a heavy counterattack.  They fought up in their hatches and took casualties from snipers up in tall buildings. So they pulled back and had the Air Force reduce those buildings before pulling back into the square to complete the job.  Weeks later, when the smell had become overpowering, 50-plus bodies were dug out of the bunkers in the park by that square.
      All of the who showed up and did their job were heroes.  But I want to tell the story of Sgt Harry MacFarland, even though he didn’t like this story.  MacFarland was a medic, busy patching up some wounded Republican Guard kids.  One of them, shot clean through the thigh and ass, reached up and kissed MacFarland as he worked on him.  Some other GIs said, “That’s gay!”  MacFarland was bummed.  I told him, “You should be proud.  That kid was thanking you for treating him like a human being.”

      Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 26 at 12:41 AM • permalink


    1. Damn.  Thanks guys.

      Posted by saltydog on 2006 05 26 at 01:41 AM • permalink


    1. It sickens me to the core of my fibre, it distresses me to the point of tears that I have to come here to hear these stories.

      All the very best guys. May God be with you at every moment.

      And thanks.

      Posted by geoff on 2006 05 26 at 04:18 AM • permalink


    1. If we could harness the grave spinning of cindy sheehan’s son, we could have an endless source of power.

      Posted by Rob Read on 2006 05 26 at 05:12 AM • permalink


    1. Thanks alot El Cid, I appreciate it. And thanks SSG Medic and crittenden for sharing your stories.  I can’t do it right now. Maybe when I get away from here, because there is a Marine I knew on my 1st deployment to Iraq who WILL have his story told.  Thanks to all of you.

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 05 26 at 09:11 AM • permalink


    1. Thanks for sharing your memories, crittenden.  Not all heros get medals, but their stories should be told.

      Posted by The_Real_JeffS on 2006 05 26 at 09:53 AM • permalink


    1. One hero that the public, thank God, does know of: Todd Beamer of Flight 93 and the immortal words “Let’s Roll!”

      Posted by Bill Spencer on 2006 05 26 at 10:17 AM • permalink


    1. Salty Dog correctly reminds us Memorial Day is about the dead.
      RAAF Flt Sgt Philip Crittenden, 20, of St Kilda and his Wellington’s crew, Peter Hamilton, 22, of Sandringham, and Brits Thomas Jackson, 26, David Fawkes, 25, Andrew Condie, 23, killed over Belgium just after midnight on Oct. 21, 1941 by an ME BF110 piloted by Helmut Baure. We are told Baure was killed over Russia several months later. Tailgunner PGEA Brown was the sole survivor, was involved in several esacpe attempts as a POW. At last report his grandson intended to go RAF.
      My grandfather Robt M. Leonard of Melb, Royal Navy Reserve, WWI, and his shipmate Alan Mussared, my great uncle, late of Sydney. Grandad, who couldn’t swim, had a story about being sunk three times in one day but naturally no one got the details as the old man was rattling on, and I haven’t been able to nail down the particulars of the incident as yet.
      Bryn Mussared, Alan’s son, who was wounded in the sinking of HMAS Canberra at Savo 9 Aug 1942 in WWII. He went on to become a rear admiral, RAN.
      In Iraq, my fellow 3rd ID embeds and road companions David Bloom, 39, dead of an embolism April 6, 2003, and Michael Kelly, 46, drowned when came under fire and his vehicle veered into a canal April 3, with SSG Wilbert Davis, 40. Spec. George Mitchell, 35, Cpl. Henry Brown, 22, PFC Anthony Miller, 19, and embeds Christian Liebig and Julio Anguito Parrado, killed by an Iraqi missile attack at the 2nd Brigade TOC south of Baghdad on April 7. Non-embedded press Taras Protsyuk and Jose Cuoso, killed in the Palestine Hotel April 8 when tankers thought they were firing on an Iraqi forward observer directing harassing fire from a tall building during the counterattack described above.
      Lt. Nathan D. White, USN, whose friendly fire death April 2, 2003, was seen by GIs on the desert floor as a strange light reversing direction in the night sky, after his F-18 was hit by a Patriot missile.
      A lot of Iraqi soldiers whose names I don’t know, who were willing to fight and die for what they believed in during the 2003 invasion. As SFC Lustig put it, “I have to respect that.”

      Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 26 at 10:18 AM • permalink


    1. If you are looking for a living hero then I nominate Private Johnson Beharry for your attention.


      Posted by Colin on 2006 05 26 at 10:34 AM • permalink


    1. Speaking of 9-11 heroes, Rick Rescorla, the corporate security director who sang English beer hall songs to keep everyone’s spirits up and is credited with getting hundreds out though he didn’t make it himself.  He did the same thing in the 1993 WTC bombing. Rescorla of course is the exhausted GI advancing on a bayonet charge whose photo appears on the cover of “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young.” A Brit who became an American and served at the Ia Drang with 2nd Btn 7th Cav 1st Cav Div, where he also kept everyone’s spirits up by singing English beerhall songs.  Never underestimate the power of a good drinking song.
      Dead at the Ia Drang: machine gunner Barry Burnite, killed as he and three others tried to flank attacking NVA. Wilbert Johnson, who tried to drag Burnite to safety; Oscar Barker Jr. who refused to leave John Eade alone and bolt for relative safety of the Btn CP after everyone else in their platoon was dead.  Eade’s story appears over at Mudville and contains some good lessons on how one should approach life and death.

      Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 26 at 10:37 AM • permalink


    1. Slightly OT by moving it to Australian war heroes, but for those who don’t them, here is a list of Australian VC winners.  Reg Ratty VC is my wife’s uncle.  And I’ve marched the Colours past Sir Roden Cutler VC, he is from my old Unit.  I learnt about our war heroes in school in the 60s, that doesn’t happen now.  We need to remember our past war heroes and those from now.  BTW, there are plenty of heroes that never got the VC, but deserved it.  The bureaucracy of war left many heroes unacknowledged.

      Posted by Stevo on 2006 05 26 at 11:25 AM • permalink


    1. Crittenden-I’ll second that mention of Rick Rescorla.  Every schoolkid should know his name.

      I also want to mention our EOD tech an Air Force E-6 named Adams (but who went by the call sign “uncle Fester” because of his name and resemblance to the character).  EOD is a tough, dangerous job even with all the technology they have at hand.  Adams took the place of SSG Eric Steffeney who was killed by an IED on February 23, 2005.

      TSGT Adams was respected by everyone on the FOB for his knowledge and skill and, after what happened to SSG Steffeney, my ambulance generally accomplanied EOD on all their missions (which was pretty cool) so I got to see a lot of what they did.

      Adams and his crew deserve a lot of praise and distinction for their work.  Generally, after an IED or cache was found, EOD would be called to the scene where they would send the robot to assess the situation and then they would blow up the ordnance again using the robot.  However on several occasions this was either not practicable or possible so they would have to deal with the explosives themselves.

      On one occasion an IED was found inside a house that was being built in Tuz.  Not wanting to blow up this person’s home Adams put on the bomb suit and went inside to defuse the device (don’t think that the suit was going to save him, EOD guys joke that the only difference between the suit and not wearing the suit is between an open casket and a closed casket funeral).  Anyway he was successful saving the guy’s house.

      Another time an IED was found near a guard tower.  At the site the robot malfunctioned and Adams and crew were unable to see if the device was destroyed when they set off the C4.  So they rolled up to the crater and Adams was getting out of the hummer when the driver saw a thin trail of smoke coming up out of the hole.  He shouted a warning to Adams who sat back down and closed the door just as the device exploded (I was down the hill and we weren’t expecting another explosion so we got ready to move to the scene when they came over the net to say that everyone was OK).  Adams and his crew were unharmed and they rotated home shortly afterwards.  Usually I have not such good things to say about Air Force types, but Adams and his crew get my complete respect.

      I’m debating on whether or not to tell one involving myself (or more accurately my ambulance crew), maybe later.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 05 26 at 11:51 AM • permalink


    1. I will be saying more than one prayer on Monday for the men of the 3/116th INF (VAARNG), 2/265 ADA (FLARNG) and 1/168th INF (IAARNG) that died protecting me and everyone else that was trying to help Afghanistan shake off the black night of tyranny and step into the light of liberty.

      Posted by Major John on 2006 05 26 at 12:48 PM • permalink


    1. Thanks to all who have posted here. I have bookmarked this thread that I might return and re-read it again and again.

      It is at once humbling an inspiring to read of the men and women from all parts of the the globe who serve the cause of freedom, as well to remember those who also serve that stand and wait.

      To those who serve, I say

      Because of you:

      When evil-doers came upon me to eat up my flesh, even mine adversaries and my foes, they stumbled and fell.

      Because of You:

      Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war should rise up against me, even then will I be confident.

      Because of you.

      Posted by MentalFloss on 2006 05 26 at 04:39 PM • permalink


    1. I agree Mental Floss,

      These stories are indeed inspiring and I believe affect all people who both support and oppose these wars.


      I would be most intereted in hearing about your own experiences.  Like the other you mentioned, these stories do deserve to be told and need to be heard.

      Why the hell were we force fed the stories of Jessia Lynch and Pat Tilman Cindy Sheehan and Lynddie England*, when there are an abundance of real examples of heroism and courage?

      *Ah, that’s better. Not to mention more apropos. The Management.

      Posted by Addamo on 2006 05 26 at 08:50 PM • permalink


    1. OK-last one.  On August 13th 2005 I went to bed about 9:30.  A little after 10:30 the FOB was rocketed and the TOC sent the QRF out to look for any insurgent activity.

      It appeared that the rocket came from a village close to the FOB so the QRF went out the front gate and down a paved road and turned off onto a dirt road.  The enemy had buried a pressure activated IED under that road and about a mile down the road the lead vehicle ran over the wire and the device exploded under the vehicle.  There is a saying that “the attack that is going so well is probably an ambush” and this was a real life example.

      SGT Myhand-who was out night guy-woke me up at 10:50 to tell me what happened so I could get the ambulance en route.  An aside about Myhand-he had a shoulder injury that could have been an easy ticket back to CONUS.  At one point he went all the way to Germany and it would have been easy for him to get back home, but he knew that we were short personnel and that he could contribute even if it meant just someone to watch the radio at night so he came back to Iraq.  After the rest of us demobilized, he had to stay on active duty to get his shoulder worked on.

      Anyway, I threw on my uniform, grabbed my IBA, weapon and kevlar and got the ambulance crew headed in the right direction.  On that night the crew was myself as FAS (Forward Aid Station) chief, CPT Spradlin-our PA, SGT Gallagher and SPC Heinzeroth and we were ready in about 10 minutes so we proceeded to the front gate to marry up with the alternate QRF.

      En route to the gate we were listening to radio traffic and the QRF called back in that everyone in the lead vehicle was dead.  However, there had been secondary explosions from the burning hummer and they thought that they were undergoing a complex ambush, so rather than secure the vehicle they had moved into a defensive posture.

      We got to the gate and the alternate QRF arrived shortly afterward so we proceeded to the scene.  We could see the vehicle burning in the distance and I was dreading what we would find.  I was driving and CPT Spradlin was TC so we could see, the other guys were in the back and couldn’t.

      When we pulled up I took the onboard fire extinguisher and ran up to the burning vehicle and tried to extinguish it, which was pretty pointless, but I expended the entire fire extinguisher into the fire.  Meanwhile CPT Spradlin was looking for any survivors when he heard someone moaning.  The gunner, SPC Downs, had been blown up out of the gunners hatch by the explosion and was laying about 20 feet from the burning vehicle.  He was burned over 60% of his body and had numerous fractures, but there was no serious bleeding and he was alive.

      CPT Spradlin started screaming for his aid bag, so I ran back to the ambulance, but SPC Heinzeroth was already there.  Heinzeroth took the aid bag, so I pulled the ambulance up closer to Downs and positioned it to where the lights were pointing at Downs.  Then I went to CPT Spradlin and took the casualty report so I could call it up.  When I got back to the truck so I could use the radio there were some more secondary explosions from the burning hummer.  Spradlin, Heinzeroth, Gallagher and SPC Mink-one of the medics from the same troop as the QRF who had just arrived-covered Downs with their bodies to protect him from any shrapnel from those explosions.

      I called in the medevac request, while the other medics treated Downs.  I also called for the second ambulance to come to the site to recover the bodies of SSG Asbury Hawn, SGT Shannon Taylor and SPC Gary Reese.  The medics who were given this difficult task were SGT Chamberlain, SPC McIntyre and SPC Lane.  We loaded Downs and brought him back to the aid station where COL Call-our physician-took over treatment assisted by all the medics at the aid station.

      As you might imagine, this was a very difficult night but everyone worked tirelessly in treating Downs, recovering the bodies of Hawn, Reese and Taylor and dealing with the scene of mass confusion both at the site and at the aid station.  Downs ended up losing both his legs below th knee.  He is still hospitalized at Brooke Army Medical Center at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio.

      The platoon that Reese, Hawn, Taylor and Downs was from was also the platoon that Orlandini (see above) was assigned to.  Near the end of our tour in October another of their vehicles hit an IED and three more of their soldiers were wounded (none seriously).  Out of 20 soldiers or so in that platoon, at least 8 were casualties including two medics.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 05 26 at 10:27 PM • permalink


    1. OK-I lied about that being my last post.  This link is freaking awesome.

      Posted by 68W40 on 2006 05 27 at 12:33 AM • permalink


    1. #26 crittenden. I remember that missle strike on the 2nd BDE TOC like it was yesterday.  I was sitting in the V Corps TAC in Iskandarya not too far from 2nd BDE.  I remember hearing the BDE CDR’s quavering voice on the radio pleading for a medivac for one of his SGMs.  We all had tears in our eyes.  A few days later I met up with their SJA (a captain) who showed me his toughbook computer with a 5 inch chunk of shrapnel sticking through the screen. It was directly in fornt of his face and saved his life.  I told him if this army gig didn’t work out, he could get a decent job as a spokesman for Panasonic.

      Posted by Texas Bob on 2006 05 27 at 02:26 AM • permalink


    1. #36 Bob … howdy neighbor. You and I ought to have a big chat one of these days. The big lesson of that day re the German and the Spaniard was that they had opted not to go on the assault, as the general belief was that we were headed into “Mog II: The Gotterdammerung.” They called their bosses on the sat phone and said it was too dangerous, they weren’t going. Turned out the TOC wasn’t any safer. A couple friends of mine ended up on a thin khaki line after the missile strike, holding off technicals and dismounts.
      By the time that missile hit the TOC, the armor had punched through the concentric circles of IRG and fedayeen defenses and we were chilling in the palace complex, dealing only with periodic harrassment.  Eye of the storm. There is a misimpression out there that (A) the invasion was a cakewalk and (B) Baghdad fell without resistance. Neither are true. The mech inf holding the supply lines had a tough time of it, planted right in the middle of those concentric circles of Iraqi defense at the intersections called Objectives Larry Curly and Moe. They almost ran out of fuel and ammo, and were saved by resupply that took place in the middle of firefights. The whole thing was a very ambitious operation that could have gone badly wrong. All of this took place two days before the Marines pulled down that statue.
      “Thunder Run” by David Zucchino of the LA Times is an excellent account of all of the above.  Zucchino’s experience is worth noting.  I ran into him that morning at July 14th Square, at the palace gates.  He looked like a homeless man. Even more like a homeless man than the rest of us. A few days earlier, he lost all his gear when the deuce and a half he was in with 20 grunts from the 101st fell into a canal.  They all lived.  Zucchino kept pushing on without gear. He was at Baghdad Int’l when the first Thunder Run, by 2 Brigade’s 1/64 Armor, arrived.  He liked it and jumped on board with 2nd Brigade, moving in with Geoff Mohan, a fellow LA Times guy who was with Cyclone Co. of 4/64 Armor, sister company to the tank company I was with.

      Posted by crittenden on 2006 05 27 at 08:12 AM • permalink


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