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Marine Sergeant James "Eddie" Wright - Someone You Should Know

This one is via Seamus - Marine Sergeant Eddie Wright is one hard-charging Marine.

Recently, promoted to the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps, Sergeant Wright is beginning his new job as hand-to-hand combat instructor at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Commitment to Excellence (MACE) program at Raider Hall in Quantico, VA.  MACE is the program, under LtCol Joe Shusko, that conducts martial arts training for the Marine Corps.  Wright is currently in an intense, seven-week martial arts instructor course.

Not overly impressed with Sergeant Wright, yet?

Read on.  From the Marine Corps Times, June, 2004:

...On April 6, Wright was in the midst of his second tour in Iraq, this time living his childhood dream as a recon Marine. The 28-year-old was finally doing the kind of missions for which he longed. He planned to make a life in the Corps.

On April 7, all that changed.

That day, Wright and his fellow Marines with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, now based at Camp Fallujah, were called to escort a 15-vehicle convoy of Humvees and 7-ton trucks on a 10-mile trek to a supply point, where they would hunt for enemy mortar teams.

As the company rolled toward its destination, the commander of Bravo’s 2nd Platoon, Capt. Brent Morel, sensed something was wrong. The road was bare of traffic, a clear sign of nearby danger — possibly an ambush, an IED or a mine. The Marines dismounted and swept the area, but found nothing.

Soon after, Wright and his team moved forward in the convoy’s lead Humvee and learned it wasn’t a false alarm, after all. An incredible maelstrom of fire broke out, as enemy machine-gun rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars exploded around the convoy.

Bullets were whizzing through one window out the other, Wright recalled.

“It’s a miracle nobody got shot in the face or the head.”

As the corporal opened fire with his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a machine gunner manning a weapon in the Humvee’s gun turret above took a round in the leg and groin. He passed out with his head exposed to the hail of fire. But before Wright and his fellow Marines could get the gunner down from his exposed position, an explosion rocked the vehicle.

Wright never saw it coming, but the RPG slammed into his SAW, blowing his helmet and safety glasses off and rupturing his left eardrum.

That was the least of his injuries, he realized a moment later.

“I opened my eyes and looked at my hands and I saw they were both blown off,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘damn, both of them?’.”

The explosion also ripped Wright’s thigh wide open and broke his femur. With the thigh bone sticking out, his leg was bleeding wildly and his hands gone, Wright knew he had to get medical attention fast.

What happened after that would earn Wright the Bronze Star.

As junior Marines in the Humvee began “freaking out” about Wright’s gruesome injuries, the noncommissioned officer knew he needed to keep his cool. Wright’s team leader Sgt. Eric Kocher was also hit in the arm by a bullet, leaving the team three men down.

According to his Bronze Star citation, Wright “was the epitome of composure.”

“Understanding the severity of his own injuries, he calmly instructed others on how to remove the radio, call for support and render first aid,” the citation states. “He also pointed out enemy machine-gun emplacements to his fellow Marines assisting in the demise of 26 enemies killed in action.”

Wright instructed one of his lance corporals to put a tourniquet on his wounds.

“I had to stay calm. If I freaked out the younger Marines would freak out. The Marines without combat experience would freak out,” Wright recalled.

Kocher, unable to operate his weapon with one arm, jumped in the driver’s seat and another Marine took his place on the right to provide security as they drove out of the kill zone.

Meanwhile Wright helped direct fire at machine gun emplacements as the battered Humvee sped away.

All together, Bravo Company faced at least 40, perhaps 60, enemy insurgents, that day.

Although Wright’s Humvee made it out without fatalities, the company would lose Capt. Morel, who died after being hit in the chest by machinegun fire...

It would take more than 39 units of blood to stablize Wright and one amazing surgeon saved his leg.  More in the Extended Section:

...Wright wanted to be a Marine since he first heard leathernecks calling cadence calls as a kid and he wants to stay in the Marine Corps, despite his injuries.

Wright and his therapist agree that if he works hard enough, he will be able to do almost anything required of him except pulling the trigger of a weapon.

“I think the Marine Corps will give me a fair chance. I just need to demonstrate I can do it,” he said. “If I could stay in my battalion that would be great.”

Most of all, Wright wishes he was still in Iraq helping his unit.

“I’d trade that medal for a chance to go back there.”

Wright easily could have been medically retired.  But he won't let the Marines discharge him.

I believe that Sergeant Wright married Donthelle Mathison, an Air Force Staff Sergeant, in May.  She wouldn't let Wright discharge her.

He attended the reunion of the famed 3rd Battalion/3rd Regiment .  Here's what a former member of 3/3 had to say:

...The place was packed; more than we have had at any of our many reunions. These are the old Vietnam warriors, and some great WWII & Korea as well, who have seen everything -- nothing impresses them!

Well Sgt. Wright was introduced from his table, then mounted the podium, saluted us with no hand and the place went absolutely able-sugar; 10 minutes of total pandemonium.  The hotel staff came up from the lobby to see what the hell was happening.

The roar didn't die down for another 20min.  When he could finally say something, he simply said that we were his inspiration and that all Marines modeled themselves after us.  Then he sat down...

[You can read more about people like Sergeant Eddie Wright in the Someone You Should Know index .]