Someone You Should Know

From Petty Officer to PinUp - Kelli Serio (Someone You Should Know)

For those of you familiar with the great work of Gina Elise and Pinups for Vets, you know she has a bevy of gals who reenact the elegant days of WW2 Pinups.  (Including period costumes, music, etc).

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Among their number is Kelli Serio.  Smart and beautiful and fully in keeping with all things "PinUp". The bonus?  She's also a Veteran.

She's posted a biographic piece on Pinups For Vets, chronicling her transition from the US Navy

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to a Pin Up, Model and fledgling actress.

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What's great about her is that she's down to earth and fully appreciative of the wonderful things that are happening with her new career.  It is clear that she never forgets her military past and Service folks.  She's a wonderful person I've gotten to know a bit over the last few months.

Gentle readers, I present Kelli Serio - From Petty Officer to Pin Up


PFC Mark Deville - Silver Star Awarded for Actions in 1984! - SYSK

Hires_140128-D-KC128-093Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presents retired Army Pfc. Mark A. Deville with a Silver Star, the nation's third highest military award, for his actions in Korea 30 years ago, at the Pentagon, Jan. 28, 2014. DOD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton

In 1984, a Soviet defector escaped across the Korean DMZ, pursued by NORKs determined to kill him rather than let him escape...one American down, another South Korean soldier down...and a squad of Infantry arrived to stop the NORKS...they flanked, then, after a 45 minute fight, captured the NORKS and the defector...the squad was awarded Silver Stars in 2000 but no one could find PFC Devine, until now.

Private First Class Mark A. Deville, United States Army, was awarded the Silver Star for exceptional valor and gallantry in action while serving with the Joint Security Force Company, United Nations Command Security Force at Panmunjom, Korea, on 23 November 1984. In reaction to thirty attacking North Korean soldiers in pursuit of a Soviet defector, Private Deville's aggressive actions were instrumental in defeating the enemy. Throughout the intense firefight, Private Deville displayed a complete disregard for his own personal safety while accomplishing his mission. Private First Class Deville's bravery and aggressive performance of duty under extremely hazardous circumstances are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect great credit upon him, the United Nations Command and the United States Army.

Deville's old squad from the Joint Security Force Company reconvened at the Pentagon to see him pinned with the Silver Star and with a Combat Infantryman Badge.  General Dempsey said, "You are gathered together again as a group as you were nearly 30 years ago in support of your country."

Hires_140128-D-KC128-126Former platoon members and Kwi, right, the wife of retired Army Pfc. Mark A. Deville, listen as Deville speaks during a ceremony where he received a Silver Star, the nation's third highest military award, for his actions in Korea 30 years ago, at the Pentagon, Jan. 28, 2014. DOD photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton

More here from NPR.


The Wise Brothers

In World War II, five brothers of the Sullivan family all died on the same ship at Guadalcanal.  In this war, it is rare to find a family in which two or three have served.  

The Wise family has sent three sons to the war, and lost two of them.  The Washington Post has a long feature piece on them this weekend that is very much worth your time.


Hero - Brit Army Medic, Kylie Watson, Receives the Military Cross

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From 2011 - Seriously GREAT story about a Brit Combat Medic, and one of only four females to ever receive the Military Cross, at the Daily Mail UK:

When Lance Corporal Kylie Watson was summoned to the office of her commanding officer for a ‘fireside chat’ she feared the worst. ‘Do you know why you are here?’ he asked the combat medic. ‘Am I in trouble, Sir?’ she enquired. ‘No,’ he told her. ‘You’ve been awarded the Military Cross.’

The 23-year-old, whose tour of Afghanistan’s Helmand province was her first as a fully qualified battlefield medic, was stunned. 

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right soldier?’ she asked. But there was no mistake. The extraordinary heroism she displayed by twice running into Taliban fire to treat wounded comrades had been recognised with one of the UK’s highest honours...

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1375233/Mother-told-Military-Cross-hero-daughter-Kylie-Watson-Oh-Kylie-What-did-Next-time-don-t-.html#ixzz2puVMRFQX 


Band of Brothers Nurse Augusta Chiwy - Someone You Should Know - The Night Before XMas in Bastogne

"A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen." - Augusta Chiwy on her surviving German shells and bullets while rescuing wounded Americans during the Battle of the Bulge

You probably don't know Augusta Chiwy.  She just didn't patch up paratroopers...she went out to the battlefield and got shot at picking up wounded troops on litters and shelled and bombed in her own hospital...but you may remember this image from the Band of Brothers series (episode 6)...

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.ushttp://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/42/chiwy.jpg/

"Anna" - the character name - is the the nurse on the right. Her real name is Augusta Chiwy.  And her story is pretty damn amazing as told by Martin King - a British author who has spent 20 years in the Ardennes researching the Battle of the Bulge. He provided this article to Army News Service and is working on a book about Augusta Chiwy.

African Nurse Saved GIs at Battle of Bulge
By Martin King
Courtesy of Army News Service

BASTOGNE, Belgium, Feb. 22, 2011 – It was a bitterly cold winter morning when Augusta Chiwy's tram pulled into Brussels Central train station, Dec. 16, 1944.

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The aid station where Augusta Chiwy volunteered on the Rue Neaufchateau in Bastogne, Belgium, was destroyed by German bombs on Christmas Eve 1944, killing 30 American soldiers. U.S. Army photo
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

On that very same day at 5:30 a.m., green troops of the 106th Golden Lion Division were rudely awakened from their winter sojourn by a hellish barrage of incoming artillery shells, "screaming meemies," accompanied by the menacing rumble of Tiger and Panther tanks on the move. Just over the German/Belgian border, out in an area known as the Schnee Eifel, three German armies had assembled almost under the noses of the allies.

Brussels was still alive with commuters going about their daily routines when Chiwy arrived at the train station. She had been working at St. Elizabeth General Hospital in the Flemish town of Louvain and was on her way to visit relatives in Bastogne.

Above the din of collective voices at the station, the public address system droned out monotone information about trains, platforms and destinations, adding that, "There will be no departures for Luxembourg or Bastogne. Passengers wishing to reach these destinations should take the 7:50 to Namur."

Chiwy noticed an inexplicable sense of urgency in many of the assembled passenger's demeanors as she boarded the train for Namur about 30 miles south of Brussels. The train stopped there, and passengers wishing to go to the next destination were herded into open cattle trucks and taken as far as Marche. From there, Chiwy hitched a ride from a GI who took her to the center of Bastogne.

She arrived in Bastogne around 5 p.m. and noticed that it was a hive of activity as news was beginning to filter through of an all-out German attack to the north and east of the city. In anticipation of the approaching storm, Bastogne civilians were leaving in droves and all roads west quickly became gridlocked with a seemingly endless trail of human traffic.

Bastogne was an old market town and natural junction where seven roads converged. The German army's high command had decided many months previous to the actual attack that it was going to be a prime strategic objective, but no one there had expected what was about to occur during the coldest winter in living memory.

Chiwy had already decided that it was best to go to her uncle's house first to see if she could gather some more information on the situation. Her uncle, Dr. Chiwy, had a practice close to the main square and the young nurse wanted to know if she could help out. By that time of night the civilians and military personnel still there could audibly make out the booming sounds of distant artillery shells exploding a few miles away.

Within a few days of her arrival in Bastogne, the U.S. Army had sent reinforcements to the city. The first to arrive were 2,800 men and 75 tanks of the 10th Armored Division. The following day on Dec. 18, the 101st Airborne Division arrived around midnight and almost immediately began taking up positions at the allocated roadblocks around Bastogne in support of the existing teams. These groups proved to be a stubborn barrier that would allow the necessary time to build Bastogne's defenses and prepare for the German army's main assault.

Chiwy set to work as a nurse by assisting both civilian and military wounded wherever she found them. These efforts didn't go unnoticed. GIs from the 10th Armored Division were on the lookout for medical supplies and personnel to assist with their Aid Station on the Rue Neufchateau.

On Dec. 20, Bastogne became a city under siege. The ever-decreasing perimeter had reduced a once-beautiful city to a blood-soaked and battle-ravaged collection of skeletal smoldering ruins. The only safe places were the dank freezing cellars of ruined houses where remaining civilians and soldiers huddled together for safety and warmth. They survived on basic rations and shared whatever supplies they could find. Chiwy hadn't had a warm meal since she left Louvain and had also been reduced to this grim subterranean existence.

On the morning of the Dec. 21, Chiwy left the safety of her uncle's cellar and along with Nurse Renee Lemaire, she volunteered to work for the 20th AIB, 10th Armored Division at the aid station on Rue Neufchateau where Dr. John Prior was in charge. The situation there was desperate. There were hardly any medical supplies, save for a few bags of sulpha powder and a couple of vials of morphine.

While Lemaire helped make the wounded soldiers as comfortable as possible, Chiwy dressed their wounds and never once shied away from the gory trauma of battlefield injuries.

On at least one occasion, Dr. Prior asked Chiwy if she would accompany him to a battle site east of the Mardasson hill. She was wearing a U.S. Army uniform at the time because her own clothes had become so dilapidated and blood stained. She was well aware that if she would have been captured by German forces it would have meant instant death for collaborating with the "Amies," the German name for the American soldiers.

During a raging blizzard Chiwy calmly loaded up onto a deuce-and-a-half and went to the outskirts of Bastogne. When they arrived there, she actually went out onto the battlefield with Dr. Prior and the two litter-bearers to retrieve wounded soldiers.

Mortar shells were falling close by and German heavy machine guns were raking the ground around Chiwy's small frame as she tended the wounded, but despite this she focused on her duties undaunted. Dr. Prior said the bullets missed Augusta because she was so small, to which Chiwy retorted, "A black face in all that white snow was a pretty easy target. Those Germans must be terrible marksmen."

The skies above Bastogne had cleared on Dec. 23, and C-47s had dropped desperately needed supplies, but the very next day on Christmas Eve, those clear skies gave the German Luftwaffe a chance to send out a few of their remaining bomber squadrons over the city to cause even further death and destruction.

A 500-pound bomb fell directly on the 20th AIB Aid Station, instantly killing 30 wounded U.S. soldiers, along with nurse Renee Lemaire. Chiwy was in the adjacent house with Dr. Prior and a lieutenant when the bomb hit. She was blown clean through a wall, but miraculously survived unscathed.

On the following day, the remaining wounded were taken to the 101st headquarters at the Heintz Barracks where Chiwy worked until they were all evacuated when Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army arrived Dec. 26.

Surviving members of the 10th Armored Division recently signed a letter of appreciation for her service to them during the battle. Her efforts had never been officially recognized until then.

This month, a letter was also received from King Albert II of Belgium stating that he acknowledges Augusta Chiwy's service and will officially recognize her courage and sacrifice during the Battle of the Bulge.

Which brings us to King Albert II's awarding Augusta a knighthood...Alexander O sent me this photo from Friday, June 24th, 2011, of Augusta Chiwy becoming a Knight (Lady) of the Order of the Crown from King Albert II of Belgium.  Here is a photo of Lady Chiwy:

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Here is a video that Martin King put together. 

  

More about the doctors and nurses at the Bulge after the jump...

Continue reading "Band of Brothers Nurse Augusta Chiwy - Someone You Should Know - The Night Before XMas in Bastogne" »


Home for the Holidays...A Combat Controller and Spouse You Should Know

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This story is from Homer News:

When Erin Chambers answered the phone at 6 a.m. Nov. 16, she wasn’t surprised to hear her husband Josh’s voice. The telephone is an important link between Erin, a second-grade teacher at a private school in Seattle, and Josh, a 2000 Homer High graduate deployed with the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan.

This call was different, however.

“He asked if I could get on Skype,” said Erin of a computer program that allows the couple to see each other while talking. “So I got on Skype and he said he had good news and bad news.”

The good news: Josh was coming home.

The bad news: He had been shot in the leg...

Go read the whole story about looking at the bright side (of what life throws or the Taliban shoots at you).  By the way, Josh and Erin were married last June.

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More here at the Homer Tribune.

You can send Josh and Erin Chambers well wishes by mailing them to 30212 5th Avenue South, Federal Way, Wash., 98003.


A Time for Thanksgiving

[This is a repost from 2005.  It's still appropriate...Javier Alvarez is Someone You Should Know]

Randy sends this email, a must read if ever there was one, that he received from Captain James Eadie today:

A Time for Thanksgiving
As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, I eagerly anticipate the plates of turkey and stuffing, the moments of camaraderie around the TV watching football and the sharing of stories amongst friends, but it is the soldiers’ stories of bravery and courage that should be shared on this day of Thanksgiving.

I had the rare chance to talk in depth with one of my CCATT patients on our last flight, a young 24 year old Marine from Camp Pendleton, California. It is Javier’s story hangs with me this day. Javier gave me permission to share his story with you, a true story of heroism, and sacrifice that deserves to be told on Thanksgiving.

On the morning of 16 November 2005, the Marines of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment were taking part in operations along the Iraq-Syrian board to clear the towns of insurgents.   

Javier [Alvarez], a strong and sturdy looking square jawed Marine Corporal was on his third deployment to Iraq. He had seen heavy combat in his previous two deployments, and had been injured once before earning him a Purple Heart. On this day he was in command of a Squad of fourteen men. I knew just by talking to him that his men were fortunate to have him leading them into battle. He spoke with clarity and confidence of a man twice his age. In the truest essence, he was a Marine.

On this morning Javier’s Squad was providing tank security (I still don’t fully understand how infantry provides security to tanks, but that’s why I am in medicine).

The morning of the 16th started like many – early. The operation was going well. The Marines were taking some fire, but were successfully clearing the town they had been assigned. Urban warfare is extremely dangerous. Each house must be searched before it can be “cleared.” US and Iraqi Security Forces have taken heavy losses in past urban offenses such as Fallujah. Javier had no intention of letting that happen to his men today. 

As the tanks were rolling down the street they began taking heavier fire. The Squad broke into a brisk jog to keep up with the tanks as they pushed forward into the fire fight. Ahead was a house that seemed to be the focus of the fight. Lying in the doorway to the house was a downed Marine. He laid motionless spread across the sill. Further in there lay another Marine.

The Platoon Sergeant grabbed Javier and told him to send his half of his Squad to the house to pull out the downed Marines. Normally, the Squad leader would stay back to coordinate the assault, but Javier told me ‘I could not send my men into harms way without me.”

Taking point, Javier led his five man team towards the house. Shots rang out around them as they advanced. They could see the downed Marines ahead. A young Lieutenant lay face down outside the house. Javier did not know if he was still alive. They would have to act quickly if they were to save him and the others.

As they approached the house the enemy fire intensified and Javier felt a sudden sting and burning in his right leg. He looked down at his leg. Damn, he thought, “I’ve been shot.” He indeed had taken two bullets to his thigh, but he pushed on.

Undeterred, Javier continued to lead his men towards the house. With increasing fire, they took up a defensive posture against the house wall. Slightly protected there, he began tending his wounds with direct pressure as the others returned fire. He could see several downed Marines only arm lengths away, but they could not be reached safely.  Gun fire continued to rain down on them. Another member of the squad was hit. They were in a bad position.

What happened next was recalled to me by the Medic that they called Doc. During the barrage of fire, with their backs literally up against a wall an enemy grenade was thrown out of a window landing in the middle of the five men. Doc told me “It was amazing. I was applying pressure to one of the injured soldiers when someone yelled out GRENADE. Javier just dove at the grenade.  I have never seen anything like it.” 

Javier grabbed the grenade with his right hand. He told me “I knew I only had three to five seconds before it would go off.” With his body shielding his men from the grenade, he made a valiant effort to heave the grenade away. As the grenade left his hand it exploded.

Javier’s right hand was immediately amputated at the wrist. Shrapnel from the grenade penetrated his left thigh. Others in his group took shrapnel to their arms and legs, but no one lost their life.

Doc told me on the plane that he was convinced that they all would have died if it were not for Javier’s heroic actions.

The fighting continued. As more Marines approached the house to provide covering fire, Javier now with two gun shot wounds to his right leg, shrapnel to his left leg and an amputated right hand worked to get his injured men clear. With the aid of his Platoon Sergeant, Javier and his men walked out of the kill zone to the casualty collection point away from the fighting.

Doc stayed in the fight for a while despite being hit with shrapnel from the grenade. He tended to the downed Marines and at one point crawled into the house to pull out the Marine who lay inside. Unfortunately, most of the Marines they came to help had been fatally injured. There was little that could be done. Doc continued to care for the downed soldiers until others noted his wounds. Doc was finally escorted out of the fight to attend to his injuries.

In all told, Javier’s Squad took heavy injuries. We air lifted out 6 members who had sustained shrapnel injuries and one who lost his leg. Javier clearly took the brunt of the injuries, but miraculously no one lost their life. Javier’s selfless action had saved the lives of many men.

I spoke at length with Javier on the flight to Germany. Perhaps it was the awe that I felt talking with him that kept me coming back, or maybe the fact that his men admired him so much. In the end, I think I was drawn in by him because he was just like you and me. He was real. A soldier who had done everything asked of him by his country. He fought with honor and dignity, and led his men with courage. Above all, he put his men’s life above his and protected them from harm.

He didn’t ask for honors or special treatment. His biggest concern when we were loading him onto the plane was his fellow soldiers. He would not lie down until he had visualized and spoken with all of his troops on the plane.

When I arrived home from the mission, I opened the paper. There before me in simple bullet format read the names of the most recent US deaths in Iraq. I generally do not look at these lists. They are just names with no personal connection. But this day, halfway down there were five Marines listed including a young Second Lieutenant all from the 2 nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment from Pendleton, California who had died on 16 November, 2005. These were the men that Javier and his Squad gave everything to try to save.

I stared at the paper for many minutes, recalling the story Javier and his men had told me. I marveled at the sacrifices they made and felt a tremendous sense of loss for these men whose names now stood out from the paper as not mere records, but as living, breathing men who gave everything their country asked of them.

As I get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving here in Iraq, I have so much to be thankful for. My wife is amazing, we have been blessed with a child on the way, and I feel like I have the greatest family and friends that one could ever wish for, but there is more. I see around me everyday soldiers giving everything they have with the full belief that their actions do make a difference. That their sacrifices are for freedom and will one day improve the lives of ordinary Iraqis.

When I sit down on Thursday to my thanksgiving meal, I will be holding these soldiers and their families close. We as a country have so much to be thankful for.

For me, on this Thanksgiving Day, I will be thankful for Javier. He has given the gift of life to his men and their families. I often ask myself if I was in his position, what would I have done?  I don’t know, but I certainly hope that I could be like Javier.

My warmest wishes to you all for a wonderful Thanksgiving, we truly have a great deal to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving,

James S Eadie, Capt USAF MC

332 Expeditionary Air Evacuation Squadron

Balad, Iraq

Critical Care Air Transport Physician

The men who died that day were Lance Corporal Roger Deeds, Lance Corporal John Lucente, Corporal Jeffrey Rogers, Corporal Joshua Ware, and 2nd Lieutenant Donald McGlothin - all from the Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment, 13th MEU, 1st Marine Division.


A Newly Minted American Finds Inspiration - Robert L. Howard, MOH

Dave Feherty, is a golf analyst for CBS Sports and - until recently - an Irish citizen. In 2010, he became a naturalized US citizen and penned the following article regarding at least one of his inspirations.

Among his activities, and why he bears mention here on Blackfive, is that he runs Feherty's Troops First Foundation.  

He is outspoken - he and CBS Sports have had some disagreements about some of his political views - but it is clear he is focused on supporting veterans in his now adopted country.

In June of 2010, he penned an article in "D Magazine" regarding Special Forces Medal of Honor recipient COL (R) Bob Howard.  He was shocked he'd never heard of this true hero, and learned that Bob was on short final.  

I'd not want to spoil it - please just read the essay.  It is very interesting.

Dave Feherty's Essay

 


First (OIF or OEF) Army Officer to Receive Medal of Honor

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In case, you hadn't heard, on October 15, 2013, former CPT William Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions. Swenson will be the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Swenson fought in the same battle as Dakota Meyer and is the first Army Officer serving in the War on Terror to receive the MOH.

From the Army News Service:

...On the morning of Sept. 8, 2009, Swenson and his team moved on foot into the rural community of Ganjgal for a meeting with village elders. It was then he and his team were ambushed by more than 50 well-armed, well-positioned insurgent fighters.

As the enemy unleashed a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and machine gun fire, Swenson returned fire, coordinated and directed the response of his Afghan Border Police soldiers, and simultaneously tried to call in suppressive artillery fire and aviation support.

After the enemy effectively flanked Coalition Forces, Swenson repeatedly called for smoke to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements. Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support and medical-evacuation helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded.

Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender and maneuvered uncovered to render medical aid to a wounded Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Kenneth W. Westbrook. Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, then assisted with moving Westbrook for air evacuation.

After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery was required due to the proximity of heavily-armed enemy positions to potential helicopter landing zones.

With complete disregard for his own safety, Swenson voluntarily led a team into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire on three occasions to recover the wounded and search for missing team members.

Returning to the kill zone a fourth time in a Humvee, he exited the vehicle, evaded a hail of bullets and shells to recover three fallen Marines and a Navy corpsman, working alongside then-Marine Corps Cpl. Dakota Meyer, who on Sept. 15, 2011, received the Medal of Honor for his own actions in the battle.

After six hours of continuous fighting, Swenson rallied his teammates and effectively disrupted the enemy assault.

Swenson was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant following graduation from Officer Candidate School on Sept. 6, 2002. His military training and education includes the infantry Maneuver Captains Career Course, Ranger Course, Infantry Officer Basic, Infantry Mountain Leader Advanced Marksmanship Course and Airborne School.

His military decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; the Purple Heart; the Army Commendation Medal; the National Defense Service Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one campaign star; the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars; the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; the Army Service Ribbon; the Overseas Service Ribbon; the Combat Infantryman Badge; the Ranger Tab; and the Parachutist Badge.   

 


Amputee earns the Expert Infantryman Badge - 1LT Pitcher is Someone You Should Know

Amputee overcomes physical obstacles to earn coveted Expert Infantry Badge

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)

Amputee overcomes physical obstacles to earn coveted Expert Infantry Badge
4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joe 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.

Read more: http://www.dvidshub.net/news/113458/amputee-overcomes-physical-obstacles-earn-coveted-expert-infantry-badge#.UjL4wsu9KK1%23ixzz2elvC64fv#ixzz2enSF6DFl