Amputee earns the Expert Infantryman Badge - 1LT Pitcher is Someone You Should Know
Posted By Blackfive
First Lt. Joshua Pitcher, from Rineyville, Ky., a paratrooper assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, is awarded the coveted Expert Infantry Badge by brigade commander Col. Tim Watson during a ceremony Sept. 6. Pitcher lost his right leg after he was wounded by an improvised explosive device during a combat patrol in southern Afghanistan last year. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Armas)
FORT BRAGG, N.C. — First Lt. Joshua Pitcher, a paratrooper assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, was on patrol in southern Afghanistan last year when he was injured by an improvised explosive device that took his right leg from him.
Following his injury, instead of feeling sorry for himself and basking in grief, Pitcher focused on returning to his unit and being with his troopers.
“I wasn’t going to just up and quit because I lost a limb,” said Pitcher.
“I wanted to get better and come back to be the best Paratrooper that I can be,” added Pitcher, whose father is also a combat veteran and former Paratrooper.
Pitcher, who is originally from Rineyville, Ky., underwent thirteen months of intense rehabilitation at Walter Reed Medical Center before rejoining the 4th BCT this past May. He now serves as a platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
While he was at Walter Reed, he said that the other troopers there also gave him the motivation to move forward and continue to serve.
“Many of those guys were more severely injured than I was and I know that they would do anything to get back with their units,” said Pitcher. “I was blessed with the opportunity to come back here and show everyone else that I can do exactly what they can,” added Pitcher, who utilizes a prosthetic leg now.
Recently, Pitcher earned the coveted Expert Infantry Badge: an accomplishment that is significant for troopers with two fully functional legs, according to Sfc. Raymond Petrik, who serves as Pitcher’s platoon sergeant.
“It’s an absolutely amazing feat and it’s a testament to his no-quit mentality,” said Petrik, a fellow EIB holder. Everyone in the platoon is proud of Pitcher’s accomplishment, added Petrik, who claims North Sioux City, S.D. as his hometown.
“He [Pitcher] is a real hard charger and an inspiration to everyone in the platoon,” Petrik continued.
Pitcher hopes that the inspiration that his troopers draw from his injury will help them overcome whatever pain they may feel. “To any infantry Soldier out there who thinks that he can’t earn the EIB, my question to him is: What’s your excuse now?” continued Pitcher.
The Expert Infantry Badge test consists of an Army Physical Fitness Test, a land navigation course that has a day and night iteration and a timed 12-mile foot march. In between those events, troopers must successfully complete 30 infantry tasks in a timely manner and to standard.
More than 600 Paratroopers from the 4th BCT tested for the EIB during these past few weeks and only a small percentage of those troopers earned the coveted blue badge when it was all said and done.
Pitcher said that the most challenging aspect of the EIB testing for him was the foot march, since his prosthetic leg had trouble staying connected the whole time. He feels that earning the EIB is essential for any leader in the infantry community.
“As an infantry officer, you have to lead from the front and set the example for all of the junior troopers, so I felt that I needed to earn the EIB,” said Pitcher. “Earning the EIB shows that you can properly execute the basic infantry tasks that are required of any infantryman,” added Pitcher.
Ultimately, Paratroopers like Pitcher are standard bearers for what can be achieved if one has the grit and determination to accomplish his or her goals in life.
Humble in nature and soft spoken, Pitcher said those around him deserve a lot of the credit for his success.
“If anything, I just want to thank God, my wife, my family and my friends for believing in me this whole time,” said Pitcher.
His Actions Saved Thousands <...> After the second plane hit the south tower on Sept. 11, some people panicked when one staircase filled with smoke. Using his bullhorn, Rescorla directed them to a clear one. As on the battlefield, he sang to keep workers calm.
Even after it appeared that Rescorla evacuated most of the Morgan Stanley employees, he returned to check for stragglers. As Olson was working his way down on about the 10th floor he saw Rescorla going back up.
"I said, 'Rick, you have got to get out of there,' and he said, 'I will, as soon as I get everyone out,' " Olson said.
It was the last known sighting of Rescorla...
"Today is a day to be proud to be American"
Those words were shouted by Rick Rescorla as he herded 2700 people out of tower two, September 11, 2001.
"Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming Can't you see their spear points gleaming? See their warriors' pennants streaming To this battlefield. Men of Cornwall stand ye steady It cannot be ever said ye for the battle were not ready. STAND AND NEVER YIELD!" - "Men of Harlech" Sung by Rick Rescorla in the Ia Drang Valley 1965 and in the stairway of WTC Tower 2 on September 11, 2001
First, you must read the definitive post about Rick Rescorla by Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette. Rescorla was one of my heroes when I was a Sergeant-turned-Cadet and began reading extensively about Viet Nam and the Ia Drang Valley.
Rick was a British (Cypress and Rhodesia) and American (Viet Nam) war hero. He retired as a Colonel in 1990.
Decades later, after 9/11, I had no idea that Rescorla had everything to do with denying Al Qaeda a huge victory. I wasn't surprised that Rick had saved 2,700 people that day, and then paid the price with his life when he went back into the tower for stragglers. He knew, KNEW, it was coming down. And he went anyway...
Tenacious, strong, and leading all the way to the end.
Rick's widow, Susan, left this comment for all of us (you, too!) here at Blackfive in 2008:
Thank you for keeping Rick alive. I know why Rick died, and I am so proud of him. The book, and of course the fabulous bronze statue, which will be on Heroes'Walk in 2008 will endure forever, as his legacy, as a new Hero in our new millinium. Today is a day to be proud to be an American.
All the best, Susan Rescorla
September 11th is a day to be proud to be an American. .
Stand and never yield!
[In case you're wondering why the Men of Harlech may be familiar]
A Soldier delighted his unsuspecting family when he emerged from the water behind them to see them for the first time since his return from Afghanistan.
Bethany Bronson and children headed to the beach to record video messages for Captain Hyrum Bronson, who was not expected to return from duty for another three weeks. However to his family's surprise, Captain Bronson emerged from the water - still in his uniform - saying, "Mrs Bronson, your husband reporting for duty".
An overwhelmed Bethany Bronson exclaimed, "Are you freaking kidding me", before bursting into tears. Clearly elated at their father's return, Captain Bronson's children are heard shouting "Daddy!" as they rush to hug him.
The soldier had to put on scuba gear so he could execute the plan without spoiling the surprise.
SYSK: Pararescueman, Staff Sgt. Zachary Kline, Receives the Silver Star
Posted By Blackfive
"We were going to do everything in our power to get him back. If I had to clip in and hold him, I would have. There was no way he wasn't coming back." - USAF Staff Sergeant Zachary Kline, after holding a fighting position by a Fallen Angel for more than five hours.
Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla pins a Silver Star on Staff Sgt. Zachary during a ceremony July 14, 2013, at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. Kline earned the medal while serving in Afghanistan April 23, 2011. Padilla is the deputy inspector general of the Air Force, and Kline is a 306th Rescue Squadron pararescueman. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christine Griffiths)
by Senior Airman Christine Griffiths 355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
7/16/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. (AFNS) -- An Airman assigned here earned the Silver Star medal for gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan April 23, 2011.
Maj. Gen. Frank Padilla awarded Staff Sgt. Zachary Kline the Silver Star in a ceremony here July 14, citing Kline's role is rescuing two U.S. Army pilots while under fire, defending a crash site and coordinating aerial counter-attacks. Kline, a pararescueman, is assigned to the 306th Rescue Squadron at Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
"The Silver Star is way up on the continuum of honor," said Padilla, the deputy inspector general of the Air Force. "That means you voluntarily risked your life to save others, voluntarily risked your life to expose yourself to great danger in the service of your country. And that is exactly what Zach Kline did that day."
Kline endured approximately six hours under enemy fire, while in the process of recovering two U.S. military members.
"It's an honor being recognized for just doing my job," Kline said. "I worked with some awesome guys and was nice being a part of it."
According to the award citation, Kline was a part of a rescue team tasked to recover two U.S. Army pilots from an OH-58D Kiowa that had gone down. While on the ground, Kline fought enemy fire while coordinating with aircraft by radio to target threats located behind his position.
During the engagement, an incoming round ignited fuel within the wreckage, which then erupted in flames. He continued to push through enemy fire to an alternate site while still guiding overhead aircraft to adversarial positions by radio.
"He leaves us with an example of an Airman that bands together with other Airmen to get the job done and to save others so that they may live," Padilla said. "When Zach leaves our Air Force he's going to leave it just a little bit better because of his accomplishments while he was here."
The Silver Star is the third highest military decoration for valor and is given for gallantry in action against enemies of the United States.
NRA's Life of Duty Patriot Profiles: Outlaw Platoon Part 2
Posted By Blackfive
In 2006 Lt. Sean Parnell and the men at Third Platoon had deployed to one of the most dangerous area of Afghanistan, less than 10 miles from the Pakistani border. Their mission was to seek out enemy positions and thwart the movement of insurgent forces, into and out of the save haven of Pakistan. And was to disrupt and destroy this network at all costs. On June 10, they were under a fierce assault by the Taliban and enemy insurgents. RPGs and Mortars rained down on them, and machine gun fire seemed to come at them from all directions. If they didn't get help soon, the outcome looked grim for Sean Parnell and the men under his leadership, known as the Outlaw Platoon.
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno presents the Bronze Star Medal for Valor to Sgt. Scot Gerwitz during an award ceremony in Vicenza, Italy, May 1, 2013. Gerwitz received the award for his courageous actions during combat operations in Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Teddy Wade
First Amputee Graduates from the Air Assault Course
Posted By Blackfive
Wow. Just wow.
Sgt. 1st Class Greg Robinson has become the first amputee to complete Army air assault school, a course so grueling his prosthetic leg broke twice over the 10 days spent rappelling down ropes, navigating obstacle courses and completing strenuous road marches...
Hero Finally Recognized: Chaplain receives Medal of Honor Posthumously for actions saving lives during Korean War
Posted By Blackfive
Photo Credit: ACME Photo
Father Emil Kapaun (right) and a doctor carry an exhausted Soldier off a battlefield in Korea, early in the war. The photo shows Kapaun to the GI's left. The soldier on the GI's right side was Capt. Jerome A. Dolan, a medical officer with the 8th Cavalry regiment.
The nephew of Chaplain Kapaun recently received the MOH on his uncle's behalf last week. If you don't know the story behind Chaplain Kapaun's sacrifice as a prisoner during the Korean War, the story is one you should know (via the US Army below). Kapaun never gave up, no matter what the Chinese did to him...:
Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism, and selfless service between Nov. 1-2, 1950. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety. When he couldn't drag them, he dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded. He was taken as a prisoner of war by Chinese forces on Nov. 2, 1950.
After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners were marched for several days northward toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part.
Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.
When Kapaun began to suffer from the physical toll of his captivity, the Chinese transferred him to a filthy, unheated hospital where he died alone. As he was being carried to the hospital, he asked God's forgiveness for his captors, and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith. Chaplain Kapaun died in captivity on May 23, 1951.
Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans. His extraordinary courage, faith and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, resist enemy indoctrination, and retain their faith in God and country. His actions reflect the utmost credit upon him, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, accepted posthumously by his nephew Ray, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Washington, D.C., April 11, 2013.
This is an annual repost honoring Casey Sheehan who gave his life in a fight to save his brothers on a Palm Sunday, seven years ago...
Casey Sheehan grew up in a devout Catholic home. He served as an altar boy and then as a key member of his church's youth group for years.
When he was old enough, Casey joined the Boy Scouts, becoming the very second Eagle Scout out of his troop.
He enlisted in the Army when he was twenty years old. He decided to be a mechanic. He would undergo Combat Lifesaver training - a class on how to give IVs and treat trauma only second in intense learning to combat medic training. He was also certified to assist with giving communion to soldiers while in the field.
Specialist Sheehan re-enlisted in the Army in 2004 knowing full well that he could be sent into a combat zone.
Casey Sheehan was a Humvee mechanic with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
On April 3rd, 2004, forces loyal to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al'Sadr stormed police stations and government offices in Sadr City (a city of over 2 million). They knew the Americans would come, and they wanted a fight. Muqtada Sadr was working them up into a religious frenzy. And he had his thugs murder anyone who he thought might stand in his way - even other Shi'ite clerics. His forces were known as the Mahdi Army.
American forces quickly surrounded Muqtada al'Sadr's quarters.
On April 4th, 2004, al'Sadr's Mahdi forces blocked roadways and bridges with burning tires, vehicles and trash. Visibility was less than 300 meters anywhere in the city. They began to attack American vehicles on patrol throughout Sadr City - some were protecting Shia worshipers (Holy Arbayeen) while others were escorting city government vehicles.
A battle raged across Sadr City. Insurgents assaulted American troops while looters and mobs formed and stormed through the streets. Word spread quickly across the American FOBs that there was trouble.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment were ambushed with RPGs and pinned down and dying. While fighting off an attack himself, the Commander of the 2/5th, LTC Volesky, called for help. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) was formed of volunteers - their mission was to go out and rescue the American troops.
Casey Sheehan's Sergeant asked for volunteers. Sheehan had just returned from Mass. After Sheehan volunteered once, the Sergeant asked Sheehan again if he wanted to go on the mission. According to many reports (and according to his own mother), Casey responded, "Where my Chief goes, I go."
The QRF was launched. Not long after entering the Mahdi area, the QRF was channeled onto a dead-end street where the roofs were lined with snipers, RPGs, and even some militia throwing burning tires onto the vehicles. The Mahdi blocked the exit and let loose with everything they had.
Sheehan's vehicle was hit with multiple RPGs and automatic-weapons fire.
Specialist Casey Sheehan and Corporal Forest J. Jostes were killed.
A second QRF was formed - all volunteers - to go rescue the first. Specialist Ahmed Cason was hit in the second QRF - but kept fighting until he bled to death.
They were Spc. Robert R. Arsiaga, Spc. Ahmed Cason, Sgt. Yihjyh L. "Eddie" Chen, Spc. Stephen D. Hiller, Spc. Israel Garza, Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, and Sgt. Michael W. Mitchell.
It was Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday commemorates the day that Jesus entered Jerusalem. Back then, the palm frond was a symbol of victory - laid beneath the feet of those of the highest honor and triumph. Some believe it was this honor fit for a king that forced Jesus's enemies to act and crucify him.
In recognition of Casey, the Catholic Chapel at Fort Hood, Texas (where Sheehan was stationed) named the Knights of Columbus chapter the "Casey Austin Sheehan Council".
Casey also received the Bronze Star for his Valor that day.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.