Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wednesday Heroes

Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
Lance Cpl. Hatak Yuka Keyu M. Yearby
21 years old from Overbrook, Oklahoma
3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force
May 14, 2006

Hatak Yuka Keyu Martin Yearby was remembered in funeral services as a small town boy who balanced his Choctaw tribal heritage and his military life.

He did traditional American Indian dances with grace, compassion, discipline and free spirit — "the way he lived his life," the Rev. Timm Emmons said Monday.

"He had a desire to be in the military since he was a young boy. And he believed in what he was doing. He was a warrior, and he was a hero and he finished the course."

Yearby was killed by a roadside bomb, along with fellow Lance Cpl. Jose S. MarinDominguez Jr., in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, two months after he arrived in that country.

Friends and family, fellow American Indians, teachers and classmates filed past his open casket for an hour after the funeral while a U.S. Marine Corps honor guard stood at attention.

About 1,000 people attended a funeral service meant to celebrate the life of the 21-year-old newlywed from Overbrook in southern Oklahoma’s Love County.

Those who spoke in the packed Marietta High School auditorium talked of how he loved to hunt, but never came back with anything. He played tricks, won dancing awards at powwows and appeared on a recruiting magazine for Upward Bound because of a headdress he made from a T-shirt.

Nine of his friends stood on stage to remember Yearby. Jake Barber spoke for them, pausing several times to regain his composure.

"Many great words describe Hatak. The only real word you need to say is 'brother'. He will always be known to us as the ace of spades, the most important card in the deck. He touched us so dearly that words cannot explain,".

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 Wednesday Hero, you can go here.

I think I mentioned these gentlemen before, but I wanted to point out that three of the four men who received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their actions in Iraq are from MISSOURI!

Honoring Marine Cpl Valdez

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (June 1, 2007) – (June 18, 2007) -- A 15-minute drive through Fallujah, Iraq, on June 23, 2005, turned into one of the worst days in history for female U.S. Marines. A suicide bomber drove his car into a convoy, causing a massive explosion that killed three women and three men and severely burnt seven other women.

Valdez was part of a group of women who had volunteered to man entry points to Fallujah in 2005 to search women and children in order to comply with Iraqi customs regarding the protection of women from unknown men. While there are often commentary that derides such attention to local customs during a war, their efforts were part of the program that allowed the marines to win over the people of Fallujah. These efforts have made Fallujah much more calm compared to the past and other areas around Baghdad. This even contributed to the larger efforts that eventually led to the Anbar Awakening that has largely pacified western Iraq.

Still, Cpl Valdez was much more personally responsible for the success of the marines in battling IEDs, the weapon most responsible for deaths and injuries of our troops in Iraq:

Valdez, a Purple Heart Medal recipient, was an invaluable member of the 2nd Marine Division Communication Operations Section during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Valdez’s most significant work was with Division’s Counter Improvised Explosive Device Working Group. The success of the tests conducted by CIEDWG was in a large part attributed to Valdez’s knowledge of single-channel radios.

The impact Valdez made in her field was a driving force behind the dedication of a top communications training facility.

The communication facility was dedicated with her mother Elida Valdez present. A plaque with her picture graces the wall.

“We have not traveled these long distances to honor a building,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Sylvain, the communications information systems chief for Marine Forces Reserve. “We pay tribute to not only Corporal Valdez but what she represents. She’s a perfect selection to not only represent the communications community but the (noncommissioned officer) corps.”

Before the ceremony concluded, the crowd witnessed the first Radio Operators Course class graduation from the newly-named Valdez Training Facility.

Reflections on service and sacrifice

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (June 18, 2007) -- Friends, families, fellow Marines and sailors gathered to honor the service, commitment and friendship of fallen brothers of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, May 25, who were killed in action while conducting combat operations in Iraq.

The battalion suffered a loss of 11 Marines and one Navy corpsman while fighting the violent insurgency throughout Ramadi, Iraq, on an extended nine-month tour from 2006-2007.

“They are brothers in a way few can truly understand,” Jurney said. “The nature of our shared hardships creates a special bond between our Marines and sailors like no other. I know each of these men shared that special bond and brotherhood with all these men here today.”

The young men of the battalion entered the extremely dangerous city of Ramadi where there were 70-80 firefights a week, according to Jurney.

“Their courage, bravery, commitment and selfless acts were simply amazing,” Jurney said.

By the time they were leaving Ramadi, there was barely one firefight a month to account for. Families and businesses felt safer and were returning to the city because these service members were leaving it in a better state.

“These young men and all those that stand before you made a difference,” Jurney said. “What they did mattered.”

One of these Marines was Lance Cpl Michael Sanchez:

Lance Cpl. Michael A. Schwarz was remembered as a Marine that was not afraid to take the lead. “With all due respect Corporal, you’re married and you’re not going anywhere first,” was what Schwarz told another Marine in a time of danger. That’s the kind of Marine he was, a friend said.

"Fallen Angel!" - Pilot and Crew protect downed aircraft

Video included - US Army Blackhawk pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Jerry Sartin, and his flight crew engaged a hostile enemy after another aircraft was shot down. Chief Sartin received the Silver Star Award for his action on the battlefield. The video was produced by Sgt. Kelly Longbine.

Again, Where Do We Find These Guys...?

Matt Sanchez in Iraq says: There are no whiners here.

Michael Yon makes his final report from the British Area of Operations: Death Or Glory Part IV

Task Force Grizzly Year in Review

Operation Medusa

Without hesitation Williams declares his favorite mission was Operation Medusa, a 22-day operation for which his Soldiers had six hours notice to prepare – a mission to take an objective their coalition counterparts found they weren’t able to accomplish alone.

“NATO had just taken over operations in RC-South,” Williams recalled. “It was the first NATO fight as an operation force in theater. The Canadians tried to do it without U.S. support because they wanted to be able to say, ‘We can do this on our own.’” But they couldn’t, he said.

“They couldn’t cross the river; there were just too many Taliban in the area. So they came to us to develop our task force and to deploy out there and have a Canadian company, an Afghan battalion and our guys, and it was to fence the enemy in,” Williams said.

“With six hours notice we produced the order, rolled our task force out there. We had a convoy that was about 50 vehicles and we moved in there, secured Panjwayi and one side of the ridge, and were able to keep the Taliban fixed for a few days. Then we called in and said ‘Hey, we see a hole, we think we can cross.’ and they let us,” said Williams.

What came next was like a scene taken from any heroic wartime movie. “We crossed under fire, used smoke, CAS (Close Air Support), engaged in direct enemy fire, but we got the guys across, seized the area and the next day took an objective that nobody else could take. All summer, they couldn’t take it, so we did. We took it, under fire, fighting through trench lines and compounds,” Williams said. The success of Operation Medusa helped secure Panjway and Pashmul.

Speaking of heroes, our men are in a huge fight in both Afghanistan and Iraq, battling Al Qaida elements on both fronts.

Let us pray for them and keep them in our thoughts.

Finally, I there are some heroes who are in uniform here, who work hard to save lives and sometimes give them:

The Nine: They rescued two warehouse workers from the roof and then they gave their lives to finish putting out the fire.

- May no soldier go unloved