Posts Tagged ‘Courage’

Marine Corps Christmas: Poetry in motion

December 8, 2009

Tradition. That spells it out. My good friend and internet buddy Texas Fred found an update of something that has been said many times before. Something that a Marine writes.

Yes, Army Infantrymen write the same sorts of things too.

But ? Well, the Marines have this one cornered. Plus, I am admittedly somewhat prejudiced. I am, after all? A Marine Corps Brat!

To be sure; this could have been written by any young Soldier, Sailor, or Airman. But? A Marine did it!

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.

Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.

My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know,
Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.

My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “It’s really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”

“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.

My Gramps died at ‘ Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘ Nam ‘,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother.

Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”
“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”

“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”

Stolen from TexasFred!

Profiles of Valor: U.S. Navy HM2 Simson

August 15, 2009

On July 27, 2007, U.S. Navy HM2 Joshua Simson was patrolling Saret Kholet, Afghanistan, with a joint U.S. and Afghan National Army unit. Simson later recounted that as the unit moved to establish an observation post for a river crossing, “A squad of Afghan National Army had pushed across the river to clear two houses and spotted bad guys. The Afghans fired at them, causing the anti-Afghan forces to initiate their ambush prematurely.” While the Americans and Afghans were in the “kill zone,” they hadn’t progressed so far as to be surrounded. But they still took heavy casualties in the ensuing seven-hour battle. Simson was serving as an advisor on being a medical first responder, and he put his training into action. Soon after the battle began, he pulled a wounded Afghan soldier into a bunker to administer first aid. The bunker took a direct hit, but he kept going. Throughout the battle, Simson said he repeated a sequence of tasks: “See or hear somebody need help, put out suppressive fire, move the man to cover if possible, and render lifesaving aid.” Finally, the unit was able to evacuate the wounded. Simson was awarded the Silver Star for his willingness to expose himself repeatedly to potential injury or death to save wounded soldiers on the battlefield.

Navy honors fallen Littleton corpsman

April 30, 2009

The Navy has honored Littleton Hospital Corpsman Luke Milam, who was killed during a fierce battle with the Taliban in Afghanistan, by naming a new 504-bed, $60 million “Homeport Ashore” barracks for him at Naval Station Everett in Washington.

The building named in Milam’s honor, which will double the base’s current housing capacity, was dedicated Friday.

“While we know that Luke would absolutely hate the fuss made over him, we’re sure that he would love the building and the wonderful apartments,” said his father, Michael.

In October 2007, hundreds of mourners packed a Littleton church for services for Milam.

He was killed on Sept. 25, 2007, during a battle between U.S.-led coalition forces and Taliban forces near the city of Musa Qula, an area of Afghanistan known for opium-poppy cultivation.

At the time, Milam, a special amphibious reconnaissance corpsman, was assigned to Golf Company, 2nd Marine Special Operations Battalion.

During a lengthy tribute at his Littleton service, the Columbine High School graduate was honored for being a “warrior” who fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those who spoke said Milam was both an exemplary Navy corpsman and an excellent combat fighter.

They also said he was an exceptional human being, driven by compassion.

In Iraq, where he had served earlier, Milam received the Bronze Star for bravery after his platoon came under attack. He pulled injured soldiers from burning vehicles, arranged a defense perimeter and fought off attackers.

On April 20, 1999, Milam, then a senior at Columbine High School, lost his close friend Isaiah Shoels in the school shooting rampage. Milam was devastated by Shoels’ murder and vowed to go into the Navy, become a corpsman and prepare himself to help others so “he would never be in that position again.”

“Luke was an ordinary kid who fell in love with the Navy as an 8-year-old,” said his father. “He early enlisted at 17 years old, left for boot camp two weeks after high school graduation and never looked back.”

In addition to apartments, the building — called Charles Luke Milam Bachelor Housing — also features seven lounges available to sailors for viewing movies, studying or playing a variety of games, including pool, ping-pong, air hockey and video games.


Profiles of valor: United States Army Sgt. Hernandez

February 14, 2009

Well done Sergeant, carry on.

Profiles of valor: United States Army Sgt. Hernandez


United States Army Sgt. Omar Hernandez came to America from Mexico with his family when he was six months old. He joined the Army Reserve when he was 19, deploying to Iraq in 2003. He changed to the regular Army in 2004 and returned to Iraq as an infantryman, earning his citizenship after his second tour. On 6 June 2007, during his third tour in Iraq as part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Hernandez, three other American soldiers and nine Iraqis left Joint Security Station “Maverick” in Ghazaliya on a census patrol.

Just outside the station, however, the team was ambushed. Two Iraqi police were immediately shot. Hernandez returned fire, but was soon shot in the thigh himself. He later said it was “like Forrest Gump — where he goes, ‘Somethin’ jumped up and bit me.'” Indeed — the bullet entered the back and exited the front, just missing his femoral artery, but taking a third of his quadriceps with it. Despite his wound, Hernandez made it to the intersection where the two Iraqi police officers were down, dragging one 15 feet to safety. He then went back for the second, picking him up and carrying him on his shoulder. Hernandez made sure first aid was administered and then resumed firing on the enemy, only later accepting treatment himself. His actions saved the lives of the two Iraqis that day. “I couldn’t let anyone die out there,” he said. For his heroism, Hernandez received the Silver Star.

Valor, Navy Crosses, and United States Marines

November 23, 2008

Marines to be awarded Navy Cross posthumously

By Dan Lamothe – Staff writer
Posted : Saturday Nov 22, 2008 7:46:45 EST

Two Marines who died in Iraq stopping a small water tanker filled with explosives will be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest combat honor, a Marine spokeswoman said.

Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter, 19, and Cpl. Jonathan Yale, 21, were standing guard April 22 in Ramadi when a truck filled with 2,000 pounds of explosives roared toward a joint Marine-Iraqi headquarters, Marine officials said. The two riflemen opened fire and stopped the vehicle before it reached the gate, but the truck exploded, killing the two Marines.

Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, a Marine spokeswoman in Iraq, confirmed the award decision, first reported Thursday on the Web site of the Los Angeles Times.

Haerter, of Sag Harbor, N.Y., was assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C.-based 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. The Sag Harbor-North Haven Bridge on Long Island was renamed the Lance Cpl. Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge on Nov. 15, according to the New York Daily News.

Yale, of Burkeville, Va., was assigned to Lejeune-based 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. He was described by family as an outdoorsman who participated in the school robotics and drama clubs in high school, according the Washington Post.

In May, the Corps said the actions of the pair saved 33 Marines, 21 Iraqi police officers and numerous civilians resting beyond the gate of the outpost.

“They saved all of our lives,” Lance Cpl. Benjamin Tupaj, a rifleman with 1/9 on post that morning, said in the Corps’ statement. “If it wasn’t for them that gate probably wouldn’t have held. The explosion blew out all of the windows over 150 meters from where the blast hit. If that truck had made it into the compound, there would’ve been a lot more casualties. They saved everyone’s life here.”

Haerter and Yale were both posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and nominated for “an award for valor,” according to the statement released in May. It did not specify which award they were nominated to receive.


Profiles of valor: U.S. Army Sgt. James Brasher

November 23, 2008

United States Army Sgt. 1st Class James Brasher was serving as platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment in December 2007. His company was part of Operation Mar Kararadad, a mission to clear the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qal’eh, Afghanistan. On the night of 7 December, the company flew by helicopter to a point just outside the city and occupied a hill overlooking it. At dawn, the company began taking enemy fire from a town at the bottom of the hill, so they moved to clear the town. At one point, Sgt. Brasher killed an attacking jihadi before he could injure or kill any U.S. soldiers, and Brasher also took out an enemy position with a fragmentation grenade.

Brasher then led his men against other enemy positions as they systematically cleared the town. Repeatedly exposing himself to enemy fire, Brasher continued to lead the Americans in pursuit of retreating insurgents, killing several more. The Taliban consolidated behind a defensible compound, but Brasher kept fighting even after he was hit in the right forearm and bicep by an enemy round. In fact, the medics had to force him to take medical care. On 9 October 2008, Brasher was presented the Silver Star for “daring acts of intrepidity and gallantry in the face of a numerically superior and determined force,” according to the citation. “SFC Brasher’s fearless actions and dedication to mission accomplishment enabled Second Platoon to destroy over 20 well trained Taliban fighters. His quick decisions and aggressive stance against the enemy saved the lives of his men.”

Profiles of valor: U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ashley Henderson Huff

November 14, 2008

In October, the Interior Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government honored a fallen American soldier with a statue at the opening of a police college in Erbil. U.S. Army 1st Lt. Ashley Henderson Huff of the 385th MP Battalion, based out of Fort Stewart, Georgia, was honored for her work toward establishing the new academy, which will accommodate up to 650 people. Huff had worked on behalf of Coalition Forces with the Interior Ministry to build the police academy, but she was killed by a suicide car bomber in Mosul in 2006. Interior Minister Sinjari said, “First Lieutenant Ashley Henderson Huff was a woman of courage and determination. We are honored to have worked with her. Her family and colleagues should be proud of what she did for her country and for the people of Iraq in the liberation of our country. Her statue will act not only as a remembrance of her but will also inspire our police cadets to live up to her standards of commitment and professionalism.”

Veterans Day

November 11, 2008

Just what does Veterans day mean to me? Well, I believe that it means a lot that is different from the perspective that most people have. I could recount the history of Veterans day, as I am sure that many will do elsewhere, so why bother.

I could write of heroic deeds performed by men and women in defense of our nation as well as other nations thereby defending freedom and democracy. The American way if you will. However, I am also sure that stories of that genre will also be all over the Internet as well.

I could write about the men that helped my mother to raise me after my Father was killed on a hillside near Chosen, Korea. Those men are a part of history, not just that of the Marine Corps, but the worlds history as well.

No, I think that today’s post will be about something different;

“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”

Think about those words, about what they mean;

“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.”

The oath that Officers take is slightly different yet some things are held in common with the oath taken by enlisted personnel. Indeed they share many characteristics. The overwhelming one that stands out to me though is that neither oath sets an end to the oath. A term of service if you will. So today I will write about veterans that carry on after their term of military service has ended, but their fealty to the oath that they have taken has not. Some things will be in general. Others more specific.

Ralph Montoya had a habit of hiring people that were down and out. He was a supervisor for a large well known corporation. He knew that people that were having problems could, and would work out those problems when given the tools to do so. His methodology was self discipline and hard work that led to a sense of personal pride. He once said that to him, a poor credit record meant that the person needed a decent job. Not being further kicked to the curb like so many organizations practice. Just by being himself he garnered a degree of loyalty that is seldom seen in the civilian sector. It also helped that he had two Rangers on staff. He managed material, and lead people. We lost Ralph last year to cancer. He was a highly decorated Medic that had served in Viet Nam.

David Allen works for a pretty large telecommunications company. He is pretty average as far as his size and looks go. Scars, at least physical scars fade with time. David goes home from work and builds model trains. That is what he likes to do. That, and fellowship with current and former Marines. The trains all stop though when David gets working on his other passion in life. David has put in countless hours with the ” Toys for Tots” program. He’s come a long way from the rice paddy’s and deserts. Still, he hears the call to duty, and exemplifies Marine Corps spirit. Semper Fi Sergeant Major!

John, as I will call him for OpSec reasons, works as a town deputy, and part time police officer in Colorado on the outskirts of Denver. During his free time he works with kids, street kids that are in a bad way. Kids that are in, or are toying with becoming gang members. he teaches them life skills. Skills that the kids turn into tools that can be used to lead to productive lives instead of prison, or an early grave. It is said that the way to tell the difference between Special Forces and Navy Seals is simple. That Seals leave craters, while you never knew that the Special Forces were there. I asked John about his work with the kids that just might put a knife into a kidney that belonged to him sometime. His response was typical of those that put selflessness into practice in every day life. “It’s simply a thing of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it don’t matter” was his response. Fair winds and following seas CPO.

These are but three of so many that not only have walked the walk. But have never forgotten that they have pledged any and all that they have for the betterment of our people, nation, and society for as long as they live.

Profiles of valor: US Army Sgt. Ruske

November 7, 2008

United States Army Sgt. Gregory Ruske, a reservist from Colorado Springs, was on tour in Afghanistan in April when he proved to be a hero. Ruske was assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 101, operating in Afghanistan’s Kapisa province. His platoon was on patrol in a remote area not accessible by vehicle when Taliban fighters attacked. Ruske supplied cover fire as most of the platoon moved to protective cover. He took a bullet to the hip but kept fighting. Ruske noticed that two Afghan National Police officers were pinned down in the open, under heavy fire. One officer was able to run for cover, but the other had been wounded and was attempting to crawl to safety. Ruske then ordered his squad automatic weapon gunner to spray the enemy with a Z-shaped pattern of fire giving him enough cover to run to the aid of the Afghan officer. He and Spc. Eric Seagraves grabbed the officer’s arms and dragged him toward a wall for cover before realizing the officer’s leg was shattered.

After the ambush was defeated, Ruske received treatment for his wound and then visited the Afghan whose life he had saved. The Afghan made a full recovery. For his bravery and selfless actions under fire, Sgt. Ruske became just the fourth Army reservist to receive the Silver Star for heroism in the War on Terror. “I don’t consider myself a hero,” he said. “I was just an ordinary guy put in an extraordinary situation. I reacted based on my upbringing, training and compassion, and thankfully, it worked out in the end.”

source: Patriot Post

Valhalla, another Marine guards the streets of Heaven.

November 2, 2008

Gads… I was there. No, not a Marine, I was further west…

John Ripley dead at 59

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Retired Marine Col. John Ripley, who was credited with stopping a column of North Vietnamese tanks by blowing up a pair of bridges during the 1972 Easter Offensive of the Vietnam War, died at home at age 69, friends and relatives said Sunday.

Ripley’s son, Stephen Ripley, said his father was found at his Annapolis home Saturday after missing a speaking engagement on Friday. The son said the cause of death had not been determined but it appeared his father died in his sleep.

In a videotaped interview with the U.S. Naval Institute for its Americans at War program, Ripley said he and about 600 South Vietnamese were ordered to “hold and die” against 20,000 North Vietnamese soldiers with about 200 tanks.

“I’ll never forget that order, ‘hold and die’,” Ripley said. The only way to stop the enormous force with their tiny force was to destroy the bridge, he said.

full story here

Semper Fi Sir! And God bless him and all that was His!

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