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.”
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.
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.
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.
...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.
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.
"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.
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