Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday Heroes

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Cindy

Lance Cpl. Steven Chavez
Lance Cpl. Steven Chavez
20 years old from Hondo, New Mexico
2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force
March 14, 2007

Tears ran down cheeks and strong men choked back emotion as the city of Hondo, NM payed tribute to fallen Marine, Steven Chavez. LCpl. Chavez lost his life on March 14, 2007 in a non-combat incident in which he was accidentally shot.

Chavez enlisted in the Marine Cops. right after he graduated in 2005. "You pray and you pray that the day never comes, and then it does," said Novelda Chavez, Chavez's mother. "Your emotions are mixed — it’s not true, it’s a bad dream, a bad dream you never wake up from."

In a letter Chavez wrote before he was sent to Iraq, he wrote:
"First of all I would like to thank everyone for your support. When I'm home on leave and when I'm away. That is so important to me. Thank you for your kind, supporting words in your letters and for the packages I've received. Those are awesome.

I've been through some pretty hard times, in the short time I've been in the Marine Corp. None harder then what I'm about to face. Yes I'm scared; nothing is scarier than the uncertainty of what your future holds for you. I'm prepared to face whatever lies ahead.

I put my life in the hands of the Lord. And pray that He guides my fellow soldiers and I down a safe path, that He will calm our fears, and give us the strength to do the job we have been trained to do, and to do that job well.

There are many lonely nights, when you're lying in your bunk thinking of family and friends, wondering what they are doing at that very moment. Wondering what mom is cooking for supper. I can almost taste the tortillas on the griddle.

I want to say to all of you tonight, I wouldn't change one thing about my life.

I've never been more proud of the choices I made in my life than the day I graduated from basic drill instructor placed that Anchor, Globe and Eagle Pin in my hand I knew then I was a UNITED STATES MARINE!

I'm Proud to protect and serve My Country

I'm Proud to protect and serve My Community

I'm Proud to protect and serve you

Thank you so much for your Support. Keep those letters coming. Mail is a precious commodity when you're so far from Home.



These brave men and women sacrifice so much in their lives so that others may enjoy the freedoms we get to enjoy everyday. For that, I am proud to call them Hero.
We Should Not Only Mourn These Men And Women Who Died, We Should Also Thank God That Such People Lived

This post is part of the Wednesday Hero Blogroll. To find out more about Wednesay Hero, you can go here.

Fallen colonel led by inspiring (video on page)
Fort Leavenworth remembers officer slain in Afghanistan as an expert and a friend.

Army Col. James W. Harrison Jr. had planned to retire. But Harrison pulled back the retirement paperwork recently when it was clear his expertise was needed.

It was a classic example of his commitment to leadership, friends said Monday at a Fort Leavenworth memorial service for Harrison, who was killed May 6 in Afghanistan by a mentally ill Afghan soldier. He was buried in a private service at Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery.[snip]

“Always take care of your soldiers,” Braden said, quoting his father. “It will bring them together as a team and may one day save their lives.”

Those who worked with Harrison said he was constantly looking out for his soldiers. Many called him a friend and mentor.

Army Maj. Isaac Johnson said Harrison took the time to talk to Johnson’s young son. Harrison recognized that a soldier’s family was important and critical to his or her success, Johnson said.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Ed Healy, a West Point classmate of Harrison’s, said that his friend took time to write an e-mail from Afghanistan. Harrison wanted to make sure Healy’s son, who was attending Virginia Tech, was safe after the shooting there last month.

“He has friends all over the world,” Healy said.

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when a letter was read from an Afghan brigadier general whom Harrison had been training. The words were especially touching because although the brigadier general had weathered the deaths of family members, friends and many others during battles with the Russian military and the Taliban, he said Harrison’s death had struck him deeper than any before. He described Harrison as a brother.

“I truly wish that I was killed instead of him,” he wrote.

He said the pain of Harrison’s death was felt by every Afghan soldier who knew the colonel. The Afghan soldiers shot and killed the gunman.

Patriot Guard Mission Complete AAR

Slide Show of Mission

Sgt Darrell Griffin

He didn't say much about why he had joined the Army—for all the reasons printed on the recruiting posters, he offered. He'd been a rebellious kid, the kind that his junior high school assistant principal was happy to see move to high school so he could stop sticking him in detention. Griffin ran away from home several times, too, once waiting a month to call his father, telling him he was living in the attic of a martial arts studio. He met his wife while he was jogging in Pasadena, Calif. ("I know it sounds corny," he told her, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, "but you look really beautiful.") They were married in 1994. Looking for excitement, he became a paramedic in the not-so-nice parts of Los Angeles, where he was shot at for the first time. But it was in the military that he found a new purpose and direction; he joined the National Guard in 1999 and, finding that too slow, went on active duty in July 2001.

In his first Iraq tour, Griffin spent time in Mosul and Tal Afar. He earned his chops kicking down doors and chasing bad guys, adventures that he documented in a journal on his laptop. He even won a Bronze Star with V for valor for saving the lives of three American and two Iraqi soldiers after an ied attack in Tal Afar.

Read the rest here. Sgt Griffin wrote about the day for which he received a bronze star with V:

When I got to the top of the vehicle, I saw Sgt. Gordon's right leg hanging on by skin only ... As we were still taking heavy small-arms fire Doc and I were pulling out our First Sergeant, whose legs had both been broken by the powerful blast. As soon as we handed him down we began to treat Sgt. Gordon by applying a tourniquet to his nearly severed leg and then handed him down. When I climbed down from the vehicle to assess PFC Rosenthal, I noticed that his face had been severely burned, so I thought, but it was merely the soot from the blast. As soon as I knelt down to cut his pants off to assess his wounds, asphalt began chipping all around us due to the small-arms [fire] getting closer ... Once at the front of the vehicle, we began taking heavy fire from a mosque off to our east and there was just nowhere else to take cover. Luckily, our Commander's vehicle approached the wreckage and we immediately loaded all the casualties and they were brought back to [Forward Operating Base] Sykes.

In watching a video interview with Sgt. Griffin, he highlighted the complexities of his service. He said it was the most honorable, most violent, most terrible and greatest service he had ever done in his life. He wanted the story to be told, not for our government or for the al-Mahdi army, but for the Iraqi people who have suffered and for whom he felt deep compassion. (Video Interview)

The Fallen Lion - Doug Zembiac

It is with tears and a heavy heart that I inform you that Major Doug Zembiec was killed this week. We have lost a true lion, a warrior without peer, a Marine among Marines...from his Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device:

"On two occasions, Captain Zembiec coordinated the actions of the Marines from atop a tank while rocket-propelled grenades and enemy small arms fire impacted all around him. Wherever the battle raged with intensity, Zembiec could be found inspiring Marines to aggressively repel the enemy's determined assault..."

He was already wounded badly before he jumped on that tank. And from the Comments of that long-ago post here, Marines spoke up about Doug:

I served with Capt Zembiec. I was a Scout/Sniper that was with him and Echo Company. I was awarded the Silver Star for my actions in Fallujah. I would Die for this man. I only wish people could see what this man did for his Marines. - Ethan Place

Blackfive also has a follow up, Remembering the Lion

I'm Sgt Maj Bill Skiles and I was Doug's 1st Sgt in Echo Co. in 2004 in Fallujah. I would like to tell you the Doug Zembiec that you won't read about in papers. I shared a hooch with this man for the 7 months and we would talk about everything from his marines to what it will be like to be married. Doug is known for his tremendous warrior spirit and his physical strength. He was a physical specimen but he had a heart of gold. The qualities that I still live with thanks to him are humility and sincerity, Doug would be the first to hug a PFC and tell him it's OK, not put him down for being weak. He would be the first person to stand up for you if he felt you were being treated unfairly. When he told someone he will do something, he did it and made sure you know the results and if you didn't he wouldn't sleep until you understood what was happening.

Army Maj. Ryan L. Worthan

Then-Capt. Worthan was on his second deployment with the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan at that time. As the sun rose, it seemed like it would be an ordinary day of patrols and maybe occasional contact with the enemy. But then, shortly before 6 a.m., a platoon on patrol received a barrage of fire from AK-47s, RPGs, machine guns, and mortars. This was not an isolated rocket attack or sporadic gunfire – this was a well-orchestrated offensive, the beginning of a pitched battle that would rage for 12 hours.

Capt. Worthan quickly provided fire support from the base, but when the platoon took casualties, Worthan exited relative safety and made his way to the front line of the battle. Assessing the battlefield, he directed the evacuation of casualties and marked enemy positions and directed fire toward them. He led one platoon through a 150-meter deep, 500-meter wide wadi even as he continued coordinating attacks on the enemy forces. From the other side of the wadi, his men fought from ridge to ridge as enemy fire continued to come from different directions. All the while, Worthan continued marking enemies and calling in their positions to air elements. As evening fell, Worthan finished clearing his areas before coordinating the return to Shkin Fire Base.

Throughout the battle, Worthan provided firm leadership under intense fire – saving countless lives and eliminating numerous enemies. For his actions and leadership, Worthan was awarded the Silver Star on June 15, 2004.

Please join Soldiers' Angels in supporting our men and women in uniform. They are our heroes, our friends, our neighbors, and our family. Make them yours.

- May no soldier go unloved