The Man in Black In Iraq
Lebanon Matters

How To Earn The Navy Cross - Sgt. Willie Copeland - Someone You Should Know

Here's a story via Seamus about courage.

Camp Pendleton Marine receives Navy Cross for heroism in Iraq
By Seth Hettena
3:48 p.m. April 21, 2005

Associated Press
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Richard Greco, right, awards the Navy Cross to Marine Corps Sgt. Willie Copeland, left, during a ceremony at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base on Thursday.

CAMP PENDLETON – When his platoon was ambushed in an attack by insurgents in Iraq last year, Marine Sgt. Willie L. Copeland III took charge.

He led five Marines out of the heaviest fire, found cover and killed 10 of the enemy in close combat. When his commanding officer fell wounded, Copeland used his body to shield the officer as he administered first aid.

For his leadership and dedication to duty, the 26-year-old from Utah on Thursday received the Navy Cross, the Navy's second-highest honor. Seven Marines have received the Navy Cross for Operation Iraqi Freedom through Jan. 10, according to the latest figures from the Marine Corps Awards Branch.

The attack killed one Marine and wounded several others, including Cpl. James Wright, who lost both his hands and was awarded the Bronze Star last year.

Copeland said he was embarrassed by the attention and explained that he was doing only what every Marine would do...

By the way, you've probably seen Corporal Wright before (click on the thumbnail for larger version).


Marine Cpl. James Wright, who received the Bronze Star Medal with valor device from Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, salutes during the national anthem at the June 1 presentation ceremony in front of the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington, Va. Wright lost both hands and suffered severe damage to his leg when his vehicle was struck by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq's Anbar province. Despite his wounds, Wright continued to lead the Marines in his charge. Photo by Cpl. Richard Stephens, USMC