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Promoted, Recommended, and Yet Humble, SGTMAJ Kasal Updates Us

Posted By Subsunk • [February 14, 2006]

Howdy, Subsunk here again.  I caught a story in a local Nebraska news channel about someone we all heard about, not so long ago.  Besides acquiring status as a United States Marine Corps "poster Marine", he's been promoted, is walking around one his healing legs, and trying to get back to 100% physical condition, just to get back to "his Marines".  The Man is dedicated, I'll say that.  As well as a million other heroic and courageous adjectives I could use.

Kasalweb

SGTMAJ Brad Kasal makes an appearance at the Iowa State House.  Read it all.  He's humble, but when you look in the dictionary under "Man, Real" you'll see his photo there.

Then refresh your memory here, here, and here.

Congratulations SGTMAJ.  Looking forward to hearing more great things from you.

Read on, folks.

More excerpts below the fold.

From KETV TNews:

Troops were clearing buildings of terrorists when Kasal spotted a wounded American who said at least three Marines were trapped in a nearby house filled with "bad guys."

Kasal rounded up a crew and led the way.

"I knew it was the toughest fighting we were doing," he would recall.

He entered first to give the Marines more confidence.

He noticed several dead Iraqis on the floor. He pointed two of his men toward a wounded American, then took Nicoll with him to check an "uncleared" room.

Shots burst from an AK-47 assault rifle 2 feet from Kasal. He backed up, then returned fire.

"I stuck my barrel right in his chest, we were that close," said Kasal. "I kept pulling the trigger until he went down . . . then I shot him two more times in the forehead to make sure he was dead."

From a staircase behind him came another barrage. "I never even saw it coming," Kasal said.

Round after round after round, nearly cutting his leg in half.

He watched Nicoll get sprayed, too, and saw him bleeding from the midsection.

In spite of his own wounds, Kasal crawled back to help his comrade.

Sliding on his belly, Kasal kicked away the insurgent he had killed and pulled Nicoll into a tiny adjoining room for cover. On the way, he was shot in the buttocks.

Both men were bleeding profusely but protected by a wall. Kasal wrapped a field dressing around Nicoll's leg.

Then came the grenade-exploding just 4 feet away.

Kasal rolled on top of Nicoll, trying to protect him from the blast.

Omahan Mitchell came running into the room to help. He, too, was hit by grenade shrapnel.

At Kasal's behest, Mitchell tended to Nicoll's injuries. Kasal laid his rifle in the doorway - a sign to other Marines that friendly forces were inside - then pulled out his 9 mm for protection.

Mitchell radioed other troops, who came later to pull the wounded Marines out.

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The final rescue phase of the battle claimed the life of Sgt. Byron Norwood, whose parents were spotlighted during President Bush's State of the Union address.

Joseph H. Alexander, a retired Marine colonel who is now a military historian, said the photo of Kasal's rescue is making the rounds in the tight-knit Marine community.

"He's badly shot up, but he's still got his weapons and he's not quitting," Alexander said of the photograph. "That's the kind of men you want fighting for your country."

Alexander, who saw his share of bravery in the Vietnam War, said he wouldn't be surprised to see high military honors bestowed on Kasal.

"He was conspicuously brave at the risk of his own life, took care of his troops and was such a warrior. That's not going to escape the attention of any of his superiors," Alexander said.

Sixty percent of Kasal's blood was shed that day.

"I'll be honest. A couple of times I didn't think I was going to make it out," he said. "I thought I was going to bleed to death."

Separation from his unit during recovery ached more than the wounds, he said. "It's hard to explain - just that bond."

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From Senor Lechero:

1st Sgt Kasal had his monthly Dr. appointment Tuesday and is healing well and has excellent bone growth. He should have his devise removed in mid-late July (Brad had hoped for June but knows how important it is to make sure his bone is strong)

The 1st Sgt is a very self disciplined individual, which is a very positive thing right now. He exercises his leg every day, many times a day, gaining movement and strength, and also circulating blood through the leg, stimulating bone growth. He also cleans his wounds many times a day, which has so far kept him from having infections. The threat of infection with external fixating devises in huge, and can be devastating.

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From: Free Republic:

Kasal's heroics have been memorialized by a journalist's photograph that's quickly spreading over the Internet.

The powerful image shows the bloodied warrior with his arms wrapped around the necks of two comrades pulling him to safety. By then, Kasal, leader of 170 Marines, had absorbed seven rounds from a fully-automatic rifle and up to 40 pieces of grenade shrapnel. Still clenched in Kasal's right hand is his 9 mm Beretta.

What happened during the hour or so leading up to that moment is a story of wartime loyalty, bravery, brotherhood.

The events highlighted a bond among three Marines: Kasal, Nicoll and 24-year-old R.J. Mitchell of Omaha. They earlier had served together in the same Marine company.

As with any photograph, there is more than meets the eye. In interviews, Kasal, Mitchell and others recounted the deeper story behind the picture.

.......................

Kasal plans to retire in 2006, capping two decades of active duty. He wants to get into real estate and settle in Iowa, near the farm where he and four brothers, all of whom served in the military, grew up.

Retirement will wait, though, until Kasal gets better.

"I want to go out as I came in - healthy and in uniform, with pride."

Finally, from Soldiers for the Truth:

Kasal may never join the pantheon of Marine Corps legends with colorful names like “Manila John” Basilone, or “Ol’ Gimlet Eye” Smedley Darlington Butler, who won two Medals of Honor, or Master Gunnery Sergeant Leland “Lou” Diamond, who sported a non-regulation goatee and once raised chickens behind his barracks. But he is every bit in their league.

During his three tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, Kasal has been wounded multiple times, including being shot seven times, peppered with grenade fragments on several occasions, and wounded by shrapnel during the Iraqi invasion in 2003 and again last August during the Marines’ deadly street fights against Iraqi insurgents in the Sunni Triangle.

According to highly placed Marine Corps sources, Kasal and another Marine who was killed in action at Fallujah, may become the first Marine Corps recipients of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. Kasal declined any comment on the report and Capt. Daniel J. McSweeney, a spokesman at Marine Corps headquarters in Washington, D.C., said the Corps’ policy is to not comment on such matters before they happen. The other potential recipient is the late Sgt. Rafael Peralta, who was killed after using his wounded body to shield his comrades from an exploding hand grenade thrown by an insurgent.

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Kasal joined the Marine Corps in 1984 from rural Afton, Iowa - population 941 - when he was fresh out of East Union High School and fresh off the family farm. Nineteen years later, he was a Marine first sergeant leading a hard-pressed company of infantrymen in a desperate fight for an Iraqi city named Fallujah, a place as foreign to most Americans as Iwo Jima was sixty years ago.

“I always wanted to be a Marine, to see the world and make a difference,” Kasal said in an interview this week.

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........ said the whole town is proud of Kasal and all his brothers who served in the armed forces. Brother Jeff is a retired Army paratrooper who fought in Desert Storm with the 82nd Airborne and now works in Iraq for Halliburton; Kelly, who was in the Army four years and Kevin, who served four years as a Marine, are all known and respected around the Iowa town.

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Currently Kasal isn’t doing too much except recovering. The 38-year-old bachelor is confined to a wheelchair while he endures a painful medical procedure to put his right leg back together. His lower leg is connected to a metal device called a halo brace that is full of pins and screws that doctors manipulate each day to stretch his battered lower leg a millimeter at a time, trying to extend it to the length it used to be before an insurgent blew it in half with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.

“They turn the screws so many notches a day,” he explained matter-of-factly from his home in Oceanside, Calif. “It would be easier if I had someone to take care of me, but I have lots of friends and they help.”

Despite his terrible wounds, Kasal has no regrets. He has seen plenty of the world and made a world of difference to a lot of young Marines placed in his charge during three combat tours in the Middle East as First Sergeant of Kilo Company, and then Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. If he has his way he will be doing it again as soon as he heals.

“I believe in leading from the front,” Kasal explained. “It eases their [young Marines] minds and concerns to see me up their with them. That is where I belong.”

His father Gerald, a retired farmer and six-year veteran of the Iowa Army National Guard in the 1950s and early 1960s, said Brad was a great kid who never posed any problems except his propensity for fighting the boys from an adjacent town who seemed to take a pleasure in beating up the boys from Afton – a practice that came to an abrupt end when Brad and his brothers beat the hell out of some of them.

“After Brad and his brothers showed up a few times, they quit thinking they could beat up the boys from Afton,” Gerald Kasal remembered. “Brad’s oldest brother used to be a bully and pick on his younger brothers and I guess Brad just decided nobody was going to pick on him anymore.”

...................

Kasal wrestled his 9mm automatic out of its holster and lay on the floor waiting for help. It was thirty or forty minutes before other Marines arrived.

“That’s when I got shot in the butt,” Kasal recalled. “It was the shootout at the OK Corral – point-blank range. I was lying there shooting and somebody shot me through both cheeks. It smarted a bit.”

Kasal did not know the exact extent of his wounds until much later; all he knew was that he was badly hurt. He was floating in and out of consciousness, ultimately losing 60 percent of his blood before he was rescued. After first aid, Kasal and Nicoll were transported to a field hospital in Iraq, then flown to Landstuhl, Germany, where Kasal was hospitalized for a week before arriving at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. 

“I took seven rounds; five in my right leg, one in my foot and one to the buttocks area. When the grenade went off I got 30 to 40 pieces of shrapnel in my back,” Kasal said he later discovered.

Doctors are still fighting to save his leg, Kasal said. By the time this story appears, he will be back at Bethesda for more treatment, but the doctors won’t know for six months whether the Marine will every be 100 percent again. “I know I will walk again, but I don’t know if I will fully recover.”

Meanwhile Kasal experiences almost constant pain.

“I'm missing four and a half inches of the fibula and tibia bones,” he said. “They put that halo brace on my leg to try and make the bone grow together. But there’s no guarantee that will work.”

Despite everything that has happened to him, Kasal still believes America’s mission is Iraq is both important and terribly misconstrued. He harbors special venom for the so-called “mainstream” media reporters who portray the war as a failure and American policy as a gross mistake. He says he has heard reporters say their job is to make President George W. Bush and his policies seem a failure.

“The insurgents are oppressing normal people,” Kasal said. “The press never reports the good things. When we open a school or fix a sewer, the things that make normal Iraqis happy, they never report it. There are plenty of Iraqis, thousands of them, who want to live normal lives. If we can help them it will be all right. The people just want peace and freedom.”

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So not only is he a hero, he's one of the smartest Marines there is, and he recognizes traitors when he sees them.

That in itself is enough for me to award him a medal.

Press on SGTMAJ Kasal.  Your picture is on the piano.

Subsunk out.


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