One of the missions of this blog is to be the conduit for many of you. While sorrowful, it is a great responsibility of ours to honor the memory of the Fallen whose sacrifices have enobled us all. A Marine Sergeant makes a request:
My name is Sgt. Paul Szoldra. I am a U.S. Marine here at Camp Pendleton, CA. I am an instructor at the School of Infantry...I always liked your section of "Someone you should know". I wanted to submit a piece for this section for my mentor, SSgt. Jason C. Ramseyer. It is unfortunate that this man gave his life for his country, even earning the Bronze Star with Combat "V", and it was not even mentioned in the media at all. I hope that your website would be able to at least shed some light on his sacrifice.
I first met SSgt. Ramseyer in 2003 after returning from a 6 month deployment with Battalion Landing Team 3/3, 31st MEU(SOC) to Okinawa and the Western Pacific. It's unusual to have someone new to your unit or platoon and instantly you are impressed. Usually there is some time to feel that person out, and eventually he starts to earn the respect of the platoon. In this instance, it was just the opposite. SSgt. Ramseyer joined us from Instructor Duty at the Marine Corps Officer "The Basic School", where he trained them in Mortar gunnery and as a Martial Arts Instructor.
From the moment he stepped on deck, we noticed how great a Marine he was. He wore the double-red tab on his Black martial arts belt, signifying that he was at the top in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. His uniform from his cover down to his boots was impeccable. He challenged us on runs, doing all kinds of exercises, running us up hills, and donning gas masks for PT. He took us on live and non-live fire training, building our infantry skills and teamwork. He guided us through classes on mortars and call for fire, relying on his own memory and experience. We didn't know why he pushed us so much until the spring of 2004, when we learned that we would deploy to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
We deployed to Afghanistan in November 2004 confident and ready for the mission at hand. We conducted hundreds of patrols throughout the Area of Operations, disrupting terrorist activities, conducting cordon and search operations, and discovering hundreds of weapons caches. Every member of our platoon returned safe and without incident in June of 2005. SSgt. Ramseyer's personal commitment to all of us brought us through safely.
In December of 2005, I left 3rd Bn, 3rd Marines and went on to be an instructor at the School of Infantry. SSgt. Ramseyer, as well as many of my brothers stayed for their last deployment with the battalion. In March 2006, they deployed to Haditha Dam and Hit, in the then-volatile al Anbar province of Iraq. For this deployment, SSgt. Ramseyer was hand picked to command the Battalion Commander's Security Detachment, also known as the Jump. It was here that SSgt. Ramseyer would prove himself once more, leading his men on numerous patrols with distinction.
On April 20, 2006, SSgt. Ramseyer was in the lead vehicle of a five-vehicle convoy. As the convoy moved through Dam Village on a security patrol, SSgt. Ramseyer spotted a suspicious object in the road. He immediately called to halt the vehicles and had his men dismount and conduct 5 and 25 meter checks around the area. The Marines attempted to identify the object but were unable, so SSgt. Ramseyer decided to conduct a V-shaped sweep forward. As they moved forward, SSgt. Ramseyer assumed the critical position at the apex of the V while he pushed his men out on the flanks to threaten a possible trigger man. SSgt. Ramseyer realized it was an improvised explosive device and instinctively turned and warned his Marines to get back. A split second later, the device was detonated, wounding the Staff Sergeant, and two other Marines. Although hit in his femoral artery, he attempted to turn and run to another wounded Marine to try and render first aid, but was overcome by his own wounds. He repeatedly refused medical treatment until his fellow Marines were looked after, and continued to issue directions for casualty evacuation and security. His last second warning to his Marines undoubtedly saved their lives and prevented more serious injuries. SSgt. Ramseyer was evacuated by helicopter from the site. While on the helicopter receiving medical care, he ignored his own mortal injury and repeatedly asked for assurance that his Marines were alright. Before that helicopter touched down again, SSgt. Jason Carroll Ramseyer was dead. He was 29 years old, leaving behind a wife and two daughters.
For his actions on that day, SSgt. Ramseyer was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat "V" Distinguishing Device. His citation is as follows:
For heroic achievement in connection with combat operations involving conflict with an opposing force while serving as Platoon Commander, Jump Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team-7, I Marine Expeditionary Force Forward, from 15 March to 20 April 2006, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Demonstrating an undying commitment to excellence and mission accomplishment, Staff Sergeant Ramseyer consistently performed his demanding duties in an exceptional manner. Recognized as a master of his profession, his devotion to duty, tactical expertise, and his ability to elicit maximum effort from those around him earned the respect and admiration of all Marines with whom he served. While conducting a mounted security patrol in support of Operation RESTORE TRUST, Staff Sergeant Ramseyer alertly identified a suspicious object that posed a threat to his patrol. While maneuvering with his Marines to secure the area, he instinctively recognized the object to be an improvised explosive device and warned his Marines to move back. A moment later, the device detonated, mortally wounding Staff Sergeant Ramseyer and seriously wounding two other Marines. Although grievously wounded and sensing the extent of his injuries, Staff Sergeant Ramseyer repeatedly directed that medical treatment be given to his fellow Marines first. Staff Sergeant Ramseyer's disregard for his own personal safety, coupled with the ability to make critical and timely decisions, saved the lives of his fellow Marines. By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, Staff Sergeant Ramseyer reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
I will never forget SSgt. Ramseyer for his leadership, mentoring, professionalism, devotion, and his ultimate sacrifice. I hope you never forget as well.
Semper Fidelis, Staff Sergeant Ramseyer.
Marine Combat Instructor
Delta Co. ITB, School of Infantry (W)
Permission granted, Sergeant Szoldra. Godspeed, Staff Sergeant Jason Ramseyer.