Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Wednesday Heroes

Usually, this post is strictly to high-light our current military heroes, which we will continue to do below. But, since today is the 4th of July, I wanted to include a little history lesson and a hero from our founding as a nation.

Did you know that John Hancock was the first man of the 56 to sign the Declaration of Independence? Did you know that he was the only signer to put his name to the document actually ON the 4th of July? When he signed the Declaration, he wrote his name in large, grandiose script. He is alleged to have said that he did it so that King George III could read it without his spectacles. According to US History.Org, the actual quote evolved from this:

A decree had been delivered from England in early 1776 offering a large reward for the capture of several leading figures. Hancock was one of them. On signing the Declaration he commented, "The British ministry can read that name without spectacles; let them double their reward."

Hancock was then President of the Continental Congress and commissioned Gen. George Washington to have the Declaration read to the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War, he personally financed or raised funds, both legitimate and through smuggling, to support the resistance in and around Boston.

Remember John Hancock: the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence ON the 4th of July.

Let us continue to commemorate those who continue to fight on the side of freedom.

Spc Clinton Warrick

MURPHYSBORO, Ill. - Even after having been thrown several meters, knocked unconscious, set aflame and buried under rubble all as a result of a suicide-vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, one deployed Fort Riley medic braved small-arms fire to save the lives of fellow Soldiers and Iraqi policemen alike last year. Cpl. Clinton Warrick, who was a medic with 2nd Platoon, 300th Military Police Company, received the Army's third highest award for valor [silver star] during a ceremony June 18 at Riverside Park for his actions during an insurgent attack Sept. 18, 2006, at the Al Huryia Iraqi Police Station. [snip]

The explosion came from what turned out to be a 200-pound aircraft bomb with an accelerant, according to reports from the unit. Warrick received third degree burns on his face, hand and legs from the blast. When he landed he was unconscious, his legs were on fire, and the roof
and an exterior wall had collapsed on him. When Jones found Warrick, he put out the fire, dragged him 20 meters to a vacant room and helped him fully regain consciousness.

One foot behind the other

Warrick said he talked himself through continuing with his mission and helping as many people as he could by telling himself to "put one foot behind the other," and pacing himself. Though Warrick's medical bag was still buried under the rubble, he made his way outside amidst small-arms fire to triage patients in the casualty-collection point Jones and his Soldiers had established moments earlier.

"All I remember is I had a job to do and I still needed to do it," Warrick said. "I was there for rendering medical aid. That's what needed to happen right then and there so I started in that frame of mind, and I continued until I was medevac'ed out." According to the unit's official report and award narrative, though he was injured severely, Warrick refused to sit down as he knew he would have immediately slipped into shock. He triaged several wounded Iraqi policemen, assessed others and conveyed the situation to the medical station at Forward Operating Base Ramadi to prepare them for the incoming patients.

Army Medic Saves Baby

KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – A U.S. Soldier potentially saved the life of an Afghan newborn June 24 in Kunar province.

Army Pfc. Theodore Batdorf, a platoon medic assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne), was credited with saving the baby’s life after performing CPR on the child.

At about 10:30 a.m. near Tsunel, a small village in Ghaziabad District, the U.S. patrol came upon an ambulance stopped in the road. A woman in the ambulance had just given birth to a boy while en route to the hospital. The baby was not breathing, so the patrol leader on the scene ordered Batdorf to assist.

Batdorf quickly examined the child and realized the newborn was in critical condition. He assessed the child’s breathing was restricted due to fluid in his respiratory tract and that the child’s circulation was poor.

Batdorf informed the platoon leader the baby needed to be evacuated to Forward Operating Base Naray for medical treatment.

During the more than 40 minute drive over extremely rough roads, Batdorf stabilized the baby by administering CPR, maintaining an open airway, and stimulating circulation.

Cpl Jason D Soley

A Marine from L Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, with combat distinguishing device in a ceremony here June 20.

For Cpl. Jason D. Soley, the squad leader for 2nd squad, 3rd platoon, March 13 was just another day of combat operations during Operation Northern Forge. His squad was part of a company-level operation in the Albu Bali area to disrupt insurgent use of the region as a safe haven. They had been operating continuously since the operation began on March 8, patrolling all day and sleeping in a new house every night. This day promised to be no different.

“We were doing a local security patrol,” said Soley, 21, from , “We exited one house and were walking through the field going to our objective, which was another house. As we were walking through the field we came upon a five- or six-foot-deep canal.”

The squad’s point man, Lance Cpl. Angel Rosa, 21, from , walked into the canal searching for a safe crossing point. As he disappeared from view, a massive explosion shook the ground, turning the squad’s world upside down.

“I looked up and I didn’t see come out of the ditch,” said Soley.

That's when Cpl Soley went to work.

Soley instinctively assessed the situation and began directing his squad. He quickly sent his team leaders to a nearby house to provide suppressive fire against the enemy machine gun position. After his squad began suppressing the enemy threat, Soley turned his attention to the evacuation of his severely wounded point man. Ignoring the rounds snapping over his head, Soley ran to the canal to check on Rosa.[snip]

After calling in the report Soley, without hesitation and still under fire, sprinted across a 75 meter open field to his Marines that were providing suppression. He continued to direct the fires of those two teams until they achieved fire superiority and neutralized the enemy threat.

“I think I heard maybe two rounds go over my head,” added Soley. “I was so much in the zone that I (didn’t hear any). The squad kept saying that there was rounds going everywhere, the insurgents had to have shot at least 300 or 400 rounds at us. I just zoned all that out and did what I had to do.”

You will definitely want to read the rest of the story: Cpl Soley

Apache Pilots Rescue Wounded Soldier

Two attack weapons teams (with two AH-64 helicopters making up a team) flew to Ramadi in support of Coalition Forces in search of insurgents and weapons caches.

The teams reached Ramadi and received notice that Coalition Forces were taking heavy small arms fire. To maximize the helicopters’ time over a potential target, one team immediately went to the Ramadi forward arming and refueling point and the other attack weapons team flew into the fight.

They engaged extremists with 30 millimeter cannon fire neutralizing them. The team then supported other Coalition Forces engaging extremists using two tractor trailers as cover. The crew took small arms fire and multiple enemy rounds to their aircraft.

Despite the small arms fire, the attack weapons team destroyed the tractor trailers, causing secondary explosions, indicating to the crew that the trailers were possibly used as vehicle-born improvised explosive devices.[snip]

As the team returned to the FARP to rearm and refuel, the ground forces commander informed the crews that he was coordinating a medical evacuation of wounded Soldiers including one critically-wounded.

Approximately 40 minutes later, after rearming and refueling, the team went back to the area and learned that the MEDEVAC aircraft had not arrived. Due to the critically-wounded Soldier and despite continued enemy activity, the Company B aviators landed and extracted the critically-wounded casualty with the Apache helicopter. While the Company A crew provided overhead security, the Company B crew landed within two kilometers of the enemy position.

Upon landing, the co-pilot/gunner helped load the injured Soldier into the front seat without further injury. Despite the heavy small arms fire and surface-to-air fire events in the area, the co-pilot/gunner strapped himself onto the left side of the aircraft and hunkered down on the wing. The pilot flew to Camp Ar Ramadi medical pad, where emergency medical personnel provided treatment. The team went back to the fight and continued to provide support for Coalition Forces. Upon neutralizing the extremists, the crew returned to LSA Anaconda.

Due to the extent of the battle damage, one extremists was confirmed killed in action, but multiple extremists were killed in conjunction with ground forces. The wounded Soldier has been transferred to LSA Anaconda and is in stable condition.

More to the story here and a video of the dramatic rescue here

Our Canadian Allies in Afghanistan: Highest Awards Presented to Special Forces

OTTAWA – During a private ceremony today at Rideau Hall, Her Excellency the Right Honourable MichaĆ«lle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, presented some of Canada’s highest honours to members of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM). The decorations included two Medals of Military Valour, two Meritorious Service Crosses and seven Meritorious Service Medals, presented in recognition of bravery and commitment to service by personnel serving within CANSOFCOM during recent deployments. For security and operational reasons, recipients' names and citations are not released.

The Medal of Military Valour is awarded for an act of valour or devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. The Meritorious Service Decorations—in two levels, a Cross and a Medal— recognize military deeds or activities performed in a professional manner and according to a high standard that bring benefit or honour to the Canadian Forces.

“These are among the highest awards that Canada can bestow on our soldiers,” said General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff. “The medals presented today reflect not only the brave and selfless actions of members of our special operations task forces but also represent the gratitude and recognition of our nation.”

One of those honored and not mentioned was a woman from Canada's Special Forces.

US Soldiers Aid Afghan Orphanage

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan— Backpacks jammed full with school supplies, soccer balls, teddy bears, toys, hygiene kits, sandals and shoes were delivered to an Afghan orphanage in Mahmud Raqi district by members of the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team June 27.

National Guard Soldiers with the 351st Civil Affairs Command from Mountain View, Calif., along with the 1175th Military Police Company, 205th MP Battalion from Mississippi geared up and armed themselves with humanitarian supplies.

Marine Leads with Experience

RUTBAH, Iraq (June 28, 2007) -- The rank of corporal has great meaning for a Marine. They proudly brandish the traditional blood stripe, and must take on the great responsibility that comes with the stripe to lead junior Marines.

For Marines from Company B, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Task Force Tarawa, one corporal is making quite an impression and showing what the true value of leadership is.

“I don’t see myself as a leader, but for some reason others seem to,” said Cpl. Travis J. Lambert, a designated marksman with the company. “I just do what I am told; no questions asked.”

Lambert provides a vital resource for the battalion by acting as a designated marksman.

“My job is similar to a sniper, but with less strenuous training,” says the Ocula, Fla., native. “I am there to provide over watch for the safety of the area, as well as acquire accurate targets, so there is less collateral damage.”

Lambert also goes beyond the call of duty, assisting on operations taking place, and often lending his experienced hand by leading patrols and missions in the area.

“It isn’t hard to lead Marines for patrols, you just have to make a mental checklist before you leave,” he said. “Checking for protective equipment, plenty of water and making sure they are in the mindset is a few of the things I remind myself to do.”

Lambert’s proactive attitude has caught the eye of many of his superiors, to which they praise highly.

That's what keeps men alive.

Our Heroes of the Marine 24th, Belton, MO, continue to impact the lives of Peruvians

ANCON, Peru (July 2, 2007) -- The realities of life in today's fast-paced Marine Corps often leave deployed Marines feeling cynical or world-weary, with little time or opportunity to enjoy the smaller joys in life, like doing something special for someone else or standing up to make an impact on the younger generation.

But when Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air- Ground Task Force 24 teamed up with Peruvian Marines of Batallon Infanteria de Marina 1 for a community relations project at the Almirante Miguel Grau public school here on the outskirts of Lima, there was all of that and more. The project turned out to be an event unlike any that has taken place throughout Partnership of the Americas 2007, an annual training exercise that aims to enhance regional stability and cooperation among nations of North and South America.

Two dozen Marines of SPMAGTF 24 headed to the school with great anticipation, but little knowledge of what exactly to expect. They knew that they would be painting the school, donating supplies and hopefully spending time with the students. But when they arrived, it became clear that the kids were more excited to see them than the Americans could have possibly imagined, surrounding the desert-patterned uniforms as soon as they could.

Mass Re-enlistment, Citizenship Ceremony Scheduled for July 4 in Iraq

WASHINGTON, July 3, 2007 – More than 600 troops are expected to re-enlist tomorrow, and more than 100 others will become U.S. citizens in an Independence Day ceremony at Camp Victory, Iraq.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of Multinational Force Iraq, made the announcement during an interview today on Bill Bennett’s nationally syndicated radio program.

Petraeus and his senior enlisted leader, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, decided to hold this year’s ceremony after the success of a previous ceremony in 2003 for the 101st Airborne Division.

“On the Fourth of July back in 2003, we had a re-enlistment ceremony. The idea was we would try to get 101, given the unit designation, to raise their right hand. And I think we had something like 150 that did,” Petraeus said. “I think it’s going to be somewhere close to 600 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are going to raise their right hand on the Fourth of July here and sign up for another tour in the armed forces.”

On this day, let us remember those who have fought and continue to fight in defense of our nation and the ideas of freedom.

- May no soldier go unloved