Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Wednesday's Heroes

This Weeks Soldier Was Suggested By Jenn

Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.
Staff Sgt. Darrell R. Griffin Jr.
36 years old from Alhambra, California
2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
March 21, 2007

"He was a really patriotic young man", said Darrell Griffin Sr. "He said that the people there really needed us and he felt it was the right place to be. He wished we didn’t have to have wars, but since that’s the way mankind is, he felt he was contributing an important part to his country".

SSgt. Griffin lost his life in Balad, Iraq when his unit came under fire as it was returning to base after conducting security operations in the Iraqi capital.

The eldest son of six children, SSgt. Griffin worked as an EMT before joining the California Army National Guard in 1999. He enlisted in the Army two years later, and in July 2001, was assigned to the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, in Ft. Lewis, Washington. He served with that unit in Iraq from October 2004 to September 2005.

On his second tour of duty, SSgt. Griffin had been awarded the Bronze Star for valor in 2005 when he was credited with saving the lives of three U.S. and two Iraqi Army soldiers injured during battle in Tal Afar. He had also received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Parachute Badge, and the Meritorious Unit Citation.

"Griff was the type of man you want to have by your side in a fight," Maj. Brent Clemmer, his former company commander, wrote from Iraq. "He was the type of squad leader every young soldier wants to have".

"Darrell was my husband, my Soldier, my gift from God who was also the love of my life and always will be." Said his wife, Diana. "He was also 'a Soldier's Soldier of Strength and Honor' whose commitment to duty, honor and loyalty will be forever remembered by all who know and love him. The news of his death saddens us deeply and we ask for your prayers in our time of grief. Please also continue to keep our Soldiers in your prayers.

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.


Anyway, Terri wrote "the young soldiers/ marines get a kick and a laugh when they see how much we like to pamper them, they can't believe it. I tell our US patients that there is one really good thing about a Reserve Hospital and one bad thing. We have thousands of years of experience and we like to GO MOM on them. When i tell them that, they say they really appreciate it. "

Two Compassionate Soldiers Give Iraqi Child Hope

KIRKUK, Iraq — The nine-year old boy would most certainly lose his leg. Given the prohibitive cost of medical care and his family’s lack of resources, amputation and a life of pain and dependence seemed inevitable. The Iraqi boy’s father was resigned to that conclusion.

Then two soldiers got involved and hope arrived along with them.

Sgt. Donald R. Campbell and Capt. Geoffrey Dutton, both Georgia natives, brought coalition and Iraqi resources together to give an Iraqi boy hope after a chance encounter during a routine patrol in Kirkuk, Iraq.[snip]

“During the search of a house I noticed a little boy,” said Campbell. “His leg was all bent up and it looked like he had a pipe wrapped to it,” he continued. “My immediate instinct was to rewrap it and change the splint for him because it looked uncomfortable. When I removed the wrap, I noticed that the pipe was actually a metal bar that was screwed into the lower part of the boy’s leg below the knee. What concerned me most though was the obvious infection.”

Campbell learned that the family was at a wedding some months ago when at least two bullets from celebratory gunfire impacted the young boy’s leg below the knee and exited the bottom of his foot. For a variety of reasons, local doctors simply screwed an exterior metal brace into the young boy’s bone at four locations.

“I cleaned the leg the best I could, gave the family extra field dressings, iodine, alcohol and instructions on how to take care of the infection,” said Campbell who would meet with the family on more than two dozen future occasions to check on the boy’s status.

“The family appeared to be doing everything correctly, but the leg seemed more infected each time I saw him. I knew we had assets in the brigade that could provide more help,” he said.

Campbell went to brigade civil affairs.

Gotta click the link to read the rest.

American Indian Marine represents family, heritage in Corps

AL ASAD, Iraq (June 26, 2007) -- It is estimated that more than 12,000 Native Americans served in the United States military in World War I. There are more than 190,000 Native American military veterans; as the years continue to compile, so do the numbers of Native Americans in the military.

One of those Native Americans is Lance Cpl. Molly Sixkiller, an EA-6B Prowler electrician for Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1.

“I’m proud to be who I am, I’m proud to be a Sixkiller,” said the Phoenix, Ariz., native. “My mother is from Arizona and is all Navaho. My father is from Chicago, (Ill.) and is Pima, Papka and Cherokee, so I am all mixed up.”

Sixkiller began her journey with the Marine Corps when she enrolled in the delayed entry program Sept. 29, 2005.

“I wanted to be one of the first in my immediate family to join one of the services,” said Sixkiller. “I picked the Marine Corps because I had to join the best.”

On a special note, Marines from Richard Gabauer 24th Marine are now in Peru. We welcomed one of the units back in April and another just departed a few weeks ago with the PGR giving them a send off.

Peru’s Marine Headquarters welcomes 24th Marines

ANCON, Peru (June 26, 2007) -- Standing in formation on a parade deck, Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force 24 received a warm welcome from their hosts in Peru’s Infanteria de Marina, or Marine Corps, as they began training here this week.

A large formation of troops, vehicles and weapons across from the Comandancia, or Headquarters, marked the official start of training in Peru. Words of welcome were given by Rear Adm. Oscar Anderson, Contralmirante (Commandant) of the Infanteria de Marina, and Capitan de Navio (Col.) Carlos Tallo, Chief of Staff. Both Anderson and Tallo spoke to the Marines after the ceremonial formation as well, personally thanking them for making the trip to Peru to train with their Marines.

Wounded Soldier Heals, Rejoins Unit

The platoon sergeant with 1st Cavalry Division’s Troop B, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, volunteered to rejoin his unit in Iraq after recovering from multiple gunshot wounds suffered in Buhriz, Iraq, March 6.

Salkanovic, 27, was leading a dismounted, eight-man reconnaissance team when 15 to 20 insurgents wielding grenades, sniper rifles and AK-47s started attacking from three different directions.

Pinned down on the roof of a building, Salkanovic and his squad returned fire. In a span of 15 minutes, Salkanovic was struck by three enemy bullets: one to his left index finger and shoulder and one apiece to his right shoulder and bicep. Two more enemy rounds nearly struck Salkanovic, but were stopped by his body armor – “the two that would have killed me,” he called them.

Salkanovic’s team managed to fend off the attack, eventually killing two insurgents. If not for the actions of one of his soldiers, Cpl. Cory Walter, Salkanovic is sure he would have died that day, he said.

“Corporal Walter is pretty much responsible for me being alive right now.”

Salkanovic, whose wounds caused him to lose two liters of blood, was evacuated to Germany and later moved to Fort Hood, Texas, to recover. After two months of healing and rehabilitation, he was ready to head back to Iraq. He rejoined his unit, which is based at Forward Operating Base Normandy, May 15.

The hardest fight

WASHINGTON -- Marine Sgt. David "D.J." Emery Jr.'s life snapped into focus one morning in April, two days after the birth of his daughter, when he studied the lower half of his hospital bed, turned to his mother and, still unable to speak, mouthed these words:

"What the f happened to my legs?"

For weeks, the young warrior's battle for survival had been waged by his mother, his young wife and the doctors who kept him clinging to this side of death.

Then Emery noticed the emptiness that day in the intensive care unit, and the fight became his.[snip]

Emery remembers little from that day in Iraq's Anbar province.

A checkpoint. Stopping to chat with other Marines, while Iraqi soldiers nearby searched anyone who didn't seem right.

He never saw the suspicious-looking man or the torso wrapped in explosives. The man spread his arms wide, like an eagle taking flight, to trigger the blast.

Emery doesn't recall much -- not the flight home, not the countless surgeries, not the amputations of first one leg, then another -- until April 23.

That's when Emery took up his own fight. He began to heal. Through good days and bad, he moved from the intensive care unit at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., to a regular hospital room, then two weeks ago to Ward 57, the amputees' home at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Over time, he's been visited by the Washington Redskins football team, by his local congressman, and by President Bush, who gave Emery his Purple Heart.

"I dunno; he's just another person, you know?" Emery recalled from his bed. "He invited me to the White House. Hopefully I can get some running legs and go running with him and smoke his ass."

The encounters that really matter are the ones with other veterans, such as the old man in the hallway who gets around better on two fake legs than most senior citizens do on real ones.

"When a doctor tells you that you'll walk one day, and he has two real legs, you're like, 'whatever,' " Emery said. "But when a guy comes in on two prosthetic legs, and they're standing there, it makes everything possible." hat tip: Soldiers Angels Germany

4 Hill Airmen receive Bronze Stars

6/25/2007 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFPN) -- Four NCOs from the 775th Civil Engineer Squadron received Bronze Stars during a mid-June ceremony at Hill Air Force Base for their actions while deployed in support of the war on terrorism.

The four explosive ordnance disposal Airmen are Staff Sergeants Evan Knight, Bradley Kline, Steven Overstreet and William White.

Sergeant Knight's team was responsible for responding to the busiest area for improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, in Iraq. The team covered 500 square miles including Baghdad and the surrounding area. He and his team responded and safely cleared 68 EOD incidents.

Sergeant Kline led his team on a 120-hour mission to clear 45 kilometers of Iraqi roadways, during which they cleared seven IEDs. Also, while on a mission, his team and security element came under sniper fire. Sergeant Kline positioned his vehicle into a blocking position, giving the security unit time to position themselves to engage and subdue the threat.

Sergeant Overstreet participated in more than 134 combat missions under constant threat of insurgent attacks. During his time in Iraq, he and his team safely dealt with 30 IED incidents along critical supply routes. He also led missions that collected more than 3,000 pieces of ordnance.

Sergeant White's team was responsible for one-third of the multinational division north's workload, which ensured the safety of more than 41,000 individuals. On one instance a member of Sergeant White's team was knocked unconscious by an IED. Sergeant White quickly took control of the vehicle and then made sure his team member wasn't critically wounded.

Coast Guard Coordinates Rescue 345 Miles off Virginia Coast

PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Coast Guard watch standers at the Rescue Coordination Center Portsmouth coordinated the rescue of a sailor 345 miles east of Cape Henry, Va., today.

Douglas W. Eaton, captain of the 20-foot sailing vessel Tyche homeported in Key West, Fla., was rescued by the crew of the cruise ship Crown Princess after the Coast Guard received an Electronic Locater Transmitter (ELT) signal from Eaton this afternoon.

The Crown Princess, a 947-foot Bahamian-flagged cruise ship, is designated as an Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue (AMVER) vessel.

"We got a great response from the AMVER vessels in the area," said Coast Guard Lt. j.g. Scott Murphy, who said several AMVER vessels in the area also answered the Coast Guard's call for assistance.

Eaton will stay on board the Crown Princess until its next port of call in New York City.

Don't Mess With the Marines!

Bill Barnes says he was scratching off a losing $2 lottery ticket inside a gas station when he felt a hand slip into his front-left pants pocket, where he had $300 in cash.

He immediately grabbed the person's wrist with his left hand and started throwing punches with his right, landing six or seven blows before a store manager intervened.

"I guess he thought I was an easy mark," Barnes, 72, told The Grand Rapids Press for a story Tuesday.

He's anything but an easy mark: Barnes served in the Marines, was an accomplished Golden Gloves boxer and retired after 20 years as an iron worker.

Team closer to finding Iwo Jima Marine

IWO JIMA, Japan - The U.S. search team looking for the remains of a Marine killed after filming the iconic flag-raising on Iwo Jima has found two possible sites and will recommend a larger team excavate them, officials said Wednesday.[snip]

The U.S. officially took the tiny volcanic island on March 26, 1945, after 31-day battle that pitted some 100,000 U.S. troops against 21,200 Japanese. Some 6,821 Americans were killed; only 1,033 Japanese survived. Of 82 U.S. Medals of Honor won by Marines in World War II, 26 were won on Iwo Jima.

Genaust paid the ultimate price.

On March 4, 1945, Marines were securing the cave, and are believed to have asked Genaust to use his movie camera to light their way. He volunteered to shine the light in the cave and was killed by enemy fire. The cave was secured after a gunfight, and its entrance sealed.

As a combat photographer, Genaust was trained to use a firearm, and he and another Marine protected the AP photographer as they climbed 546-foot Mount Suribachi. Genaust did not need to use his weapon; under heavy attack, the Japanese did not fire on the three men.

Genaust's footage also helped prove that the raising — the second one that day — was not staged, as some later claimed. He got no credit for his footage, however, in accordance with Marine Corps policy.

In 1995, a bronze plaque was put atop Suribachi to honor Genaust, who before coming ashore on Iwo Jima fought and was wounded in the battle on the Pacific island of Saipan. An actor portraying him appears in the Clint Eastwood movie "Flags of Our Fathers," and the annual Sgt. William Genaust Award has been established to honor the best videotape of a Marine Corps related news event.

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