April 20, 2006

Welcome Home!

I work at DFW airport and every day I see soldiers flying out, most heading to Iraq. Today, for the first time, I was able to see a full flight coming home. And what a great welcome they received!

There was a walkway where the soldiers walked down after leaving the baggage claim area. The walkway was lined with people along its entire length, with more people hanging out around the exit where most of the troops were leaving to board buses (back to Ft. Hood, I assume).

Every time a soldier came out and proceeded down the walkway a huge cheer went up. Our guys were treated like rock stars! They would shake people's hands along the entire way, while everyone applauded and hooted. They really seemed a little embarassed by all the attention.

It was a really nice welcome home, and I'm glad I got a chance to see it. I couldn't help but smile and feel good. All in all, it was a great way to start the day.

Posted by Brian at 11:10 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 21, 2005

Firing With Cook

If you can't stand the heat ...

(hat tip: triticale)

Posted by Brian at 10:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 19, 2005

SSG William Thomas Payne

McQ continues his series on American heroes with SSG William Thomas Payne. At the time of the action that won him a Silver Star, SSG Payne was a squad leader in the 1st Cavalry division (the unit that CPT 4ever was assigned to, and would have gone to Iraq with had they taken part in the invasion). The action took place in Sadr City Sheik Maroof [corrected per comments], near the infamous Haifa Street, in September, 2004.

While picking up observers that had stayed out overnight in the area, a Bradley was disabled by a car bomb. In a tactic common at the time, this was coupled with small arms fire from concealed enemy fighters. Under fire, and with the Bradley in flames, SSG Payne climbed on the Bradley, and pulled out its crew and the infantry trapped in the back of the vehicle. While he was doing this, not only was he under small arms fire from the enemy, but the ammunition in the Bradley had begun to cook off: exploding from the heat. Despite these dangers, SSG Payne and Spc. Chase Ash, a soldier from Payne's squad, got all of the men out of the Bradley, and the squad was able to set up medical care for the wounded until they could be evacuated safely.
Squad from the 1st Cavalry Division with squad leader and Silver Star winner SSG William Payne
One way that you can tell that we are winning is that you no longer hear about places like Haifa Street: they are too pacified to be of interest to the media. And they are that way because of the heroic actions of our soldiers, like SSG Payne and his squad. The picture is SSG Payne's squad. SSG Payne is standing, third from the left.

Thank you, SSG Payne, for your service.

Posted by jeff at 10:38 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 12, 2005

MSG Robert Collins and SFC Danny Hall

McQ continues his series on war heroes with two members of the 10th Special Forces Group (normally assigned to European operations), MSG Robert Collins and SFC Danny Hall. The Army's story about their awards is here.

In combat in Iraq's Jazeera region (in the Kurdish area near the Syrian border), Collins' and Hall's multinational SF detachment (I couldn't find a source for which other nation(s) contributed, but given 10th SFG's European orientation, my guess would be Poles or Czechs) of about 12 men was engaged by an enemy platoon-sized unit — about three times as many enemy. Hall and Collins repeatedly charged into enemy fire, most notably to rescue a critically wounded comrade. Collins called in air support and led his men in the fight, while Hall acted as medic and saved at least one soldier's life.

Thank you, MSG Collins and SFC Hall, for your service.

Posted by jeff at 1:34 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

December 3, 2005

PVT Dwayne Turner, USA

McQ continues his excellent series on American heroes with PVT Dwayne Turner. McQ quotes from a warchronicle.com post to show what PVT Turner did. I would like to quote from Jack Kelly:

I'm going to tell you about Pvt. Dwayne Turner, a medic with the 101st Airborne Division, because it's unlikely you will read about him anywhere else.

A year ago April, Turner's unit came under grenade and small arms attack about 30 miles south of Baghdad. Though he was wounded with shrapnel in both legs in the initial attack, Turner repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire to drag wounded soldiers to shelter and to provide them with medical attention. He was shot twice more while treating 16 men, two of whom would have died were it not for his heroism. "No one is going to die on my watch," he said. He was awarded the Silver Star, the third highest decoration for valor.


PVT Turner himself almost died of blood loss from his injuries. In addition to the shrapnel, he was shot in the arm (which broke his arm) and in the leg. Despite these injuries, PVT Turner repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire with no regard to his own safety to treat the wounded, and bring them under cover.

PVT Turner and his Sergeant, Neil Mulvaney, were interviewed on CNN by Catherine Callaway. Here is an excerpt:

CALLAWAY: [] Sergeant, you arrived at the scene a couple of minutes after the fighting began, right?

MULVANEY: Yes, ma'am. We got a call that we had come under fire and we rolled in. We were about a minute out with the FLA, which Turner's actually on my crew. He volunteered to go in and replace one of the other medics. When they took fire, we came in under fire. Our FLA was immediately hit with small arms fire and fragmentation. As I came to the door, it was a bad mess for the medic, several casualties lying on the ground, and Private Turner was working on several of the casualties with another medic that was also wounded during the incident. As we come in we automatically go to work on the most serious, and probably several minutes before we got back to where Turner was.

When we came back to Turner, I had to put him up against the ground, and we noticed he was bleeding quite a bit. He was getting light headed and dizzy from the loss of blood, so we bandaged him up, gave him some morphine. We didn't know how critical he was until we started actually stripping him down to see what his wounds were. From there we started medical evac, we had a helicopter on wait. And as we came out of the building with him, he's trying to help us get some guys out, hopping on one leg. And the helicopter couldn't land at first because we were taking too much fire, so we actually had to go 500 meters down road to get him and six others on the helicopter. But it seemed like a long time, but there's only a short period of time from the initial attack.

CALLAWAY: Sergeant Mulvaney, you had to think -- they call him Doc Turner, I understand. What is Doc Turner doing? The man's bleeding. You really had to restrain him, literally, physically had to restrain him and shoot him up with morphine to keep him from going back out there and rescuing more of his comrades. Isn't that right?

MULVANEY: Yes, ma'am, when we first came in, him and the other medic were fighting over who was wounded the worst. So we had to put them up against the wall and say, that's enough, you've done enough. It's time for us to do our work.

[snip]

CALLAWAY: And you've been awarded this incredible honor with the Silver Star. It has to feel just terrific.

TURNER: It feels good that soldiers got to see their families again.


Thank you, PVT Turner, for your heroic actions.

Posted by jeff at 11:01 AM | TrackBack

June 11, 2003

A Flame Beyond Common Understanding

Note: this is a post recovered from my old blog, before it died of an insufficient backup. Any comments/trackbacks on it have not been brought over, but can be seen with the original. The date is that of the original posting.

On this date, in 1944, Americans, British, Canadian, French, Polish, and ANZAC troops stormed into northwestern France, along the Normandy beaches between the Cotentin peninsula and the Orne River. Some 130000 troops came ashore on landing craft, and 26000 more came by parachute and glider. About 12000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded or went missing on D-Day- 8 casualties every minute, all day long. Over the next 10 days, some 560000 Allied troops came ashore, establishing a permimeter more than 30 miles long. By the time of the German escape from the Falaise pocket in the third week of August, some 250000 Allied soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. The Germans had lost twice as many.

A chilling first-hand account of the Omaha Beach landing is here (hat tip: Little Green Footballs). Keep in mind as you read this that a company is about 100 men. Able Company was 98% dead, wounded, missing or combat ineffective for the entire day.

Here are the Medal of Honor citations for June 6, 1944. The asterists by the names indicate the award is posthumous.

BARRETT, CARLTON W.

Rank and organization: Private, U.S. Army, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Albany, N.Y. Birth: Fulton, N.Y. G.O. No.: 78, 2 October 1944. Citation: For gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in the vicinity of St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France. On the morning of D-day Pvt. Barrett, landing in the face of extremely heavy enemy fire, was forced to wade ashore through neck-deep water. Disregarding the personal danger, he returned to the surf again and again to assist his floundering comrades and save them from drowning. Refusing to remain pinned down by the intense barrage of small-arms and mortar fire poured at the landing points, Pvt. Barrett, working with fierce determination, saved many lives by carrying casualties to an evacuation boat Iying offshore. In addition to his assigned mission as guide, he carried dispatches the length of the fire-swept beach; he assisted the wounded; he calmed the shocked; he arose as a leader in the stress of the occasion. His coolness and his dauntless daring courage while constantly risking his life during a period of many hours had an inestimable effect on his comrades and is in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Army.

*MONTEITH, JIMMIE W., JR.

Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Richmond, Va. Born: 1 July 1917, Low Moor, Va. G.O. No.: 20, 29 March 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. 1st Lt. Monteith landed with the initial assault waves on the coast of France under heavy enemy fire. Without regard to his own personal safety he continually moved up and down the beach reorganizing men for further assault. He then led the assault over a narrow protective ledge and across the flat, exposed terrain to the comparative safety of a cliff. Retracing his steps across the field to the beach, he moved over to where 2 tanks were buttoned up and blind under violent enemy artillery and machinegun fire. Completely exposed to the intense fire, 1st Lt. Monteith led the tanks on foot through a minefield and into firing positions. Under his direction several enemy positions were destroyed. He then rejoined his company and under his leadership his men captured an advantageous position on the hill. Supervising the defense of his newly won position against repeated vicious counterattacks, he continued to ignore his own personal safety, repeatedly crossing the 200 or 300 yards of open terrain under heavy fire to strengthen links in his defensive chain. When the enemy succeeded in completely surrounding 1st Lt. Monteith and his unit and while leading the fight out of the situation, 1st Lt. Monteith was killed by enemy fire. The courage, gallantry, and intrepid leadership displayed by 1st Lt. Monteith is worthy of emulation.

*PINDER, JOHN J., JR.

Rank and organization: Technician Fifth Grade, U.S. Army, 16th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Colleville-sur-Mer, France, 6 June 1944. Entered .service at: Burgettstown, Pa. Birth: McKees Rocks, Pa. G.O. No.: 1, 4 January 1945. Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, near Colleville-sur-Mer, France. On D-day, Technician 5th Grade Pinder landed on the coast 100 yards off shore under devastating enemy machinegun and artillery fire which caused severe casualties among the boatload. Carrying a vitally important radio, he struggled towards shore in waist-deep water. Only a few yards from his craft he was hit by enemy fire and was gravely wounded. Technician 5th Grade Pinder never stopped. He made shore and delivered the radio. Refusing to take cover afforded, or to accept medical attention for his wounds, Technician 5th Grade Pinder, though terribly weakened by loss of blood and in fierce pain, on 3 occasions went into the fire-swept surf to salvage communication equipment. He recovered many vital parts and equipment, including another workable radio. On the 3rd trip he was again hit, suffering machinegun bullet wounds in the legs. Still this valiant soldier would not stop for rest or medical attention. Remaining exposed to heavy enemy fire, growing steadily weaker, he aided in establishing the vital radio communication on the beach. While so engaged this dauntless soldier was hit for the third time and killed. The indomitable courage and personal bravery of Technician 5th Grade Pinder was a magnificent inspiration to the men with whom he served.

*ROOSEVELT, THEODORE, JR.

Rank and organization: brigadier general, U.S. Army. Place and date: Normandy invasion, 6 June 1944. Entered service at: Oyster Bay, N.Y. Birth: Oyster Bay, N.Y. G.O. No.: 77, 28 September 1944. Citation: for gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 6 June 1944, in France. After 2 verbal requests to accompany the leading assault elements in the Normandy invasion had been denied, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt's written request for this mission was approved and he landed with the first wave of the forces assaulting the enemy-held beaches. He repeatedly led groups from the beach, over the seawall and established them inland. His valor, courage, and presence in the very front of the attack and his complete unconcern at being under heavy fire inspired the troops to heights of enthusiasm and self-sacrifice. Although the enemy had the beach under constant direct fire, Brig. Gen. Roosevelt moved from one locality to another, rallying men around him, directed and personally led them against the enemy. Under his seasoned, precise, calm, and unfaltering leadership, assault troops reduced beach strong points and rapidly moved inland with minimum casualties. He thus contributed substantially to the successful establishment of the beachhead in France .

It should be noted that the US limited Medals of Honor from the D-Day landings to one per division. This has, in my opinion, dramatically understated the courage of American soldiers in action during that intense battle. Posted by jeff at 12:00 AM | TrackBack