Someone You Should Know

First Amputee Graduates from the Air Assault Course

Wow.  Just wow.

Sgt. 1st Class Greg Robinson has become the first amputee to complete Army air assault school, a course so grueling his prosthetic leg broke twice over the 10 days spent rappelling down ropes, navigating obstacle courses and completing strenuous road marches...

Go here to read the whole story.


Hero Finally Recognized: Chaplain receives Medal of Honor Posthumously for actions saving lives during Korean War

 

Size0Photo Credit: ACME Photo

Father Emil Kapaun (right) and a doctor carry an exhausted Soldier off a battlefield in Korea, early in the war. The photo shows Kapaun to the GI's left. The soldier on the GI's right side was Capt. Jerome A. Dolan, a medical officer with the 8th Cavalry regiment.

The nephew of Chaplain Kapaun recently received the MOH on his uncle's behalf last week.  If you don't know the story behind Chaplain Kapaun's sacrifice as a prisoner during the Korean War, the story is one you should know (via the US Army below).  Kapaun never gave up, no matter what the Chinese did to him...:

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun, while assigned to Headquarters Company, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism, patriotism, and selfless service between Nov. 1-2, 1950. During the Battle of Unsan, Kapaun was serving with the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. As Chinese Communist forces encircled the battalion, Kapaun moved fearlessly from foxhole to foxhole under direct enemy fire in order to provide comfort and reassurance to the outnumbered Soldiers. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire to recover wounded men, dragging them to safety. When he couldn't drag them, he dug shallow trenches to shield them from enemy fire. As Chinese forces closed in, Kapaun rejected several chances to escape, instead volunteering to stay behind and care for the wounded. He was taken as a prisoner of war by Chinese forces on Nov. 2, 1950.

After he was captured, Kapaun and other prisoners were marched for several days northward toward prisoner-of-war camps. During the march Kapaun led by example in caring for injured Soldiers, refusing to take a break from carrying the stretchers of the wounded while encouraging others to do their part.

Once inside the dismal prison camps, Kapaun risked his life by sneaking around the camp after dark, foraging for food, caring for the sick, and encouraging his fellow Soldiers to sustain their faith and their humanity. On at least one occasion, he was brutally punished for his disobedience, being forced to sit outside in subzero weather without any garments. When the Chinese instituted a mandatory re-education program, Kapaun patiently and politely rejected every theory put forth by the instructors. Later, Kapaun openly flouted his captors by conducting a sunrise service on Easter morning, 1951.

When Kapaun began to suffer from the physical toll of his captivity, the Chinese transferred him to a filthy, unheated hospital where he died alone. As he was being carried to the hospital, he asked God's forgiveness for his captors, and made his fellow prisoners promise to keep their faith. Chaplain Kapaun died in captivity on May 23, 1951.

Chaplain Emil J. Kapaun repeatedly risked his own life to save the lives of hundreds of fellow Americans. His extraordinary courage, faith and leadership inspired thousands of prisoners to survive hellish conditions, resist enemy indoctrination, and retain their faith in God and country. His actions reflect the utmost credit upon him, the 1st Cavalry Division, and the United States Army.

Size0 (1)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Honor to Chaplain (Capt.) Emil J. Kapaun, accepted posthumously by his nephew Ray, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Washington, D.C., April 11, 2013.

Continue reading "Hero Finally Recognized: Chaplain receives Medal of Honor Posthumously for actions saving lives during Korean War" »


Sergeant Peter Cimpoes - A Ranger You Should Know

 

208056_617792678236427_1546028781_n

Lt. Gen. Robert Brown, First Corps Commander, presents Sgt. Peter Cimpoes with the Silver Star Medal at 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment's award ceremony March 20, 2013 at St. Martin University's Marcus Pavilion in Lacey, Wash. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. David T. Chapman)

From the 75th Ranger Regiment:  

Sgt. Cimpoes received the award for his actions during a night combat operation in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, Oct. 11, 2012. During a heavy firefight with enemy insurgents in a targeted compound, Sgt. Cimpoes climbed to the roof of a one story building in order to reach two wounded Rangers. Once Sgt. Cimpoes reached the roof, he selflessly exposed himself to enemy fire and engaged and killed three enemy insurgents, who were as close as five meters away, with direct fire and grenades. Sgt. Cimpoes then maintained his suppressive fire against two additional barricaded shooters allowing other Rangers to evacuate the wounded from the roof to a casualty collection point. His actions ultimately saved the lives of two of his fellow Rangers.

Rangers Lead The Way!


SSG Clinton Romesha to be awarded the M.O.H. in a few hours

223468_10151438181923606_1162782487_n

Today, SSG Romesha will receive the Medal of Honor at about 1230PM CST.  You can learn more about him at the official US Army micro-site dedicated to his service and you can watch the live stream of the ceremony, too.  Also, important, is the team with him that fought back.  

The official citation is below.

Staff Sergeant Clinton L. Romesha

UNITED STATES ARMY

At 6 a.m., Oct. 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, came under complex attack by an enemy force estimated at 400 fighters. The fighters occupied the high ground on all four sides of the combat outpost and initiated the attack with concentrated fire from B10 recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, known as RPGs, DSHKA heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and small-arms fire.

Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha displayed extraordinary heroism through a day-long engagement in which he killed multiple enemy fighters, recovered fallen Soldiers, and led multiple recovery, resupply, and counterattack operations.

At initial contact, Romesha pushed to the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance vehicle battle position 1, or LRAS 1, under heavy enemy fire to ensure that the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher and Spc. Zachary S. Koppes were in the proper sector of fire and engaging enemy targets. After ensuring that Koppes was suppressing enemy activity in his sector, Romesha moved to the barracks and grabbed an MK-48 machine gun and an assistant gunner, Spc. Justin J. Gregory.

Moving through an open and uncovered avenue that was suppressed with a barrage of RPGs and small-arms fire, Romesha grabbed a limited amount of cover behind a generator and engaged a machine gun team that was on the high ground to the west. After destroying this team, he acquired an additional machine gun team that was firing an overwhelming amount of fire into the LRAS 2 from the switchbacks. As he was engaging, an RPG struck the generator and knocked him onto his assistant gunner. He quickly assessed Gregory and determined that he was fine. Not noticing his own wounds, Romesha re-engaged the enemy with his weapon system until an additional Soldier arrived to man the machine gun, at which point Romesha moved back through the open avenue to the barracks to assemble an additional team. Once at the barracks, Spc. Thomas C. Rasmussen noticed Romesha’s wounds and provided first aid.

Romesha assembled a five-man team and instructed them to load up on ammunition and crew-served weapons. While they were preparing, he again moved out to check on Koppes, grabbing the only accessible sniper rifle along the way, a Dragunov belonging to the Afghan National Army. Despite having only a basic knowledge with the foreign weapon, Romesha engaged multiple enemy positions on the north face, including a machine gun nest and sniper position. While continuing to expose himself to heavy enemy fire, Romesha engaged the enemy positions until they were no longer effective.

After engaging those targets, he moved back to the link up with his team. Enroute to that location, he saw three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s outer perimeter and were moving toward the laundry trailer. With a sense of calmness that inspired his Soldiers, Romesha engaged and destroyed the three targets with the Dragunov rifle and moved to the tactical operations center to give 1st Lt. Andrew L. Bunderman a report confirming that enemy forces were indeed moving inside the wire.

Identifying the essential need for ammunition, Romesha planned and led a mission to secure the ammunition supply point. Under withering fire and multiple RPG strikes, Romesha pushed his team to secure the ammunition supply point. In an attempt to provide covering fire for his maneuvering forces, Romesha used an M-240B machine gun team to secure a stronghold at a sandbagged position. He then led the team to clear the area support group commander’s quarters, and once the building was clear, he solidified his position to provide multiple sectors of fire to suppress the high ground to the west and the south.

While an enemy fighter attempted to breach the wire near Romesha’s location, a member of his team was shot in the arm, so Romesha returned accurate M-4 fire and threw multiple hand grenades to destroy the enemy fighter. Romesha evacuated the casualty and returned to improve his position. In doing so, Romesha engaged targets and suppressed enemy forces to allow the remaining Soldiers at LRAS 2 and Truck 1 battle positions an opportunity to break contact back to friendly forces. Romesha coordinated and led his men to clear the ammunition supply point and then set up positions to secure it. Once the ammunition supply point was secure, Romesha determined that the entry control point was the next obstacle that needed to be reinforced, because it was the only remaining enemy avenue of approach to the tactical operations center and aid station from the northwest.

As 3rd Platoon provided a base of fire to cover the assault on the entry control point building, Romesha led his team to secure and reinforce the entry control point building using an M-203 and a squad automatic weapon. After the entry control point was secured, enemy fighters engaged with a new intensity, sending a barrage of RPGs and B10 rounds into the building. Romesha informed the tactical operations center that the rounds were originating from the village of Urmul and the Afghan National Police checkpoint directly to the front of the entry control point. Calling grid coordinates to the enemy locations, Romesha enabled the critical 120mm mortars and air support to drop in Urmul and the checkpoint. As a result, more than 30 enemy forces were destroyed and Romesha and his men were able to hold the entry control point. Romesha’s reporting and ability to direct air and indirect fire assets allowed friendly forces to gain and maintain this critical objective.

After receiving reports that there were still friendly forces at LRAS 2, Romesha provided an overwhelming amount of covering fire to allow Sgt. Bradley D. Larson, Spc. Ty Carter, and Pfc. Stephan L. Mace, who was seriously injured, to withdraw from a previously pinned down location. Once the three Soldiers arrived at the aid station, 3rd Platoon was instructed to maneuver and support Romesha’s next objective: to recover personnel killed in action at the LRAS 2 vehicle battle position. Due to heavy fire, 3rd Platoon was unable to maneuver, but Romesha decided to push anyway without the necessary suppressive and covering fire. Under overwhelming enemy small-arms fire and RPG fire, with little support or covering fire, Romesha’s team pushed through 100 meters of enemy fire with few covered positions along the way. Upon arriving at the objective, they evacuated the bodies of two American heroes, Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos and Sgt. Vernon W. Martin. This maneuver, with great risk to himself and his Soldiers, prevented the enemy fighters from taking the American bodies off the combat outpost.

Throughout the day, Romesha understood the risks he was taking, and he knowingly put his life in danger to save the lives of his Soldiers and repel a numerically superior enemy force. Romesha was personally responsible for killing more than 10 enemy fighters with either a Dragunov, an M-4 or an MK-48, and an estimated 30 anti-Afghanistan forces with indirect fire and air support. He also led his men in killing a minimum of five others beyond that. Romesha recovered his fallen Soldiers and preserved the lives of several more. His heroic actions allowed B Troop to reconsolidate on the combat outpost and enabled him to lead the counterattack that secured Combat Outpost Keating.

Original

Members of Red Platoon, 3-61 Cavalry Regiment, including Staff Sgt. Clint Romesha (front row, second from right), pose for a picture just after arriving at Combat Outpost Keating, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, 2009


Sergeant Michael Krapels - A Paratrooper You Should Know

This one comes from reader Para66 who has been following the ROCK during their latest tour of the mysterious east.  It's a great story from RC-East by US Army Sergeant Michael Sword:

 

KrapelsAfghanistanB5

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan  – No one ever plans to suffer an injury when they join the military, and U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Krapels was no different. Krapels, who is with Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, had always wanted to join the military, and after attending college at the request of his parents, he enlisted in the Army on his birthday, Oct. 7, 2008.

“I made a promise to my parents that I would go to college first, so I did two years at the University of Maine,” he said. “A friend went up there to play football and I got accepted so we went up there and roomed together.”

The intention was to finish his college education, but a visit to the recruiter by his best friend back home in Sparta, N.J., changed that plan, and his life, forever.

“Halfway through my sophomore year of college, my best friend from back home, we had always talked about enlisting together, told me that he had gone down and spoken to a recruiter and enlisted,” Krapels recalled. “That started the ball rolling with me wanting to go and later on that spring, a buddy of mine got hurt in Helmand Province and that made it definite.”

Once he left Sparta, his transition from civilian to deployed Soldier was a quick one. From Fort Benning Ga., for his one station unit training and airborne school, to Vicenza, Italy, home of 2nd Bn, and the 173rd ABCT, to training and a mission readiness exercise, Krapels quickly found himself high in the mountains of Afghanistan’s Kunar Province by the winter of 2010.

Almost as quickly as he arrived, Krapels left Afghanistan after machine gun fire hit both of his legs, Jan. 14, 2010.

“One went through my left ankle, one through my right calf, it cut my Achilles,” Krapels said, listing just a few of the rounds that hit him. “I lost a couple of inches of bone in my shin, lost the feeling in my foot and a lot of mobility.”

The serious nature of injuries took him to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and began his fight to recover that would last more than two years. 
“There were times when I thought it was going to be impossible,” he said. “I was told I was never going to walk right, I was told I was never going to be able to run or carry weight on my back.”

Between more than 20 surgeries, Krapels spent 10 months in a wheelchair, struggling and wondering if he would ever be the same again, until a visit from 2nd Battalion’s highest-ranking enlisted Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Ferrusi changed everything.

“Sgt. Maj. Ferrusi came down in July of 2010 to talk to me,” Krapels said. “That started the ball rolling with me really throwing myself into physical therapy and getting out of my wheelchair.”

“He was struggling with identity,” said Ferrusi. “Did he want to stay in the Army, did he want to get out, he didn’t know.”

“I told him, ‘there are two things you can do in life, you can either let adversity beat you or you can beat adversity,’” he continued. “It’s not the act that defines you, it’s not what happened to you that will define you, it’s what you’re going to do from now and for the rest of your life based on what happened.”

“I was the battalion sergeant major when it happened,” Ferrusi said. “I went home on leave and went to Walter Reed to visit him. I stayed there about five days with him, hung out with him and in the course of five days I got to know him, not just as a Soldier anymore but as a person.”

Over the course of the five-day visit, Krapels discovered that that Ferrusi had broken his neck in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom I, lending weight to his words and a voice of credibility and experience to his advice that the younger Krapels wasn’t aware of.

“It was motivating because I found out that he had been injured and having someone that high up who’s been through the whole recovery process come in and share some of his wisdom with me, it was an eye opener,” said Krapels.  “When sergeant major came, that was the catalyst, like ‘If he did it, I can do it.’”

After that visit, Krapels threw himself into rehabilitation and stated in no uncertain terms his desire to make it back to the fight he was so prematurely pulled from.

“There were guys down there with no legs that were out running,” he said. “I couldn’t accept the fact that I wasn’t going to be a whole person and be able to do my job anymore, so I just put my nose into recovering.”

“Everyone in my chain of command at Walter Reed knew what my intentions were,” he continued. “I actually removed myself from their physical therapy because I thought it was moving too slow and started doing a lot of it on my own.”

In June 2011, Krapels travelled to the Center for the Intrepid at the Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. The CFI specializes in many things, including advanced outpatient rehabilitation for patients like Krapels. It was there that his rehabilitation made a breakthrough when he was fitted for an Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or simply an IDEO.

The IDEO is an external prosthesis that wraps around the leg, just below the knee, a footplate that stabilizes the foot and ankle and a pair of carbon fiber rods that connect the two. The device works by offloading the weight of the wearer, alleviating pain that some Soldiers experience when walking or running. 

“I went to San Antonio for the first time in June 2011 to get fitted for an IDEO, went back in August to get it fitted and then went through a month of extensive physical therapy,” he said. “After I received the IDEO I was able to start running again.”

After his month in San Antonio, Krapels returned to Walter Reed to check his status and evaluate his progress.

“I came back and had to go through a physical therapy revaluation at Bethesda and I got cleared to return to duty,” he said.

In November 2011, Krapels returned to Italy, to the same battalion, and back to Chosen Company, and tried to fit back in as quickly as possible.

“I didn’t get any special treatment, which is good,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms and it was like I had never left.”

While he was rehabilitating, Ferrusi kept up with Krapels’ progress and while the 2nd Battalion’s commander was a new one, by the time Krapels arrived back in Italy, Lt. Col. Michael Larsen knew who he was.

“When we finally got the word he was coming back, I was fired up,” said Larsen. “What a great example of persistence and motivation and when I met him for the first time and saw his energy and what a positive person he is it inspired me.”

“Easily, he’s a guy that could have accepted what his wounds were, been medically discharged and no one would have second guessed, no one would have said a thing or judged him any differently,” Larsen continued. “But he powered through all of that just to be able to come back and deploy with Chosen Company again, and deploy with ‘The Rock.’”

Once he returned to the company, Krapels got right back into the swing of things.  With no physical profile limiting his actions, he resumed training with his unit for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. After three training rotations in Germany, he attended the Army’s Warrior Leader Course and graduated on the Commandant’s List.

He has been deployed to eastern Afghanistan since June 2012 with Chosen Co., battling the harsh weather and terrain, keeping up with every step of the other Soldiers.

“He’s still hurting,” Larsen said. “But he still goes out and executes every patrol and never complains.”

His solid performance and his perseverance led Ferrusi to fight for, and ultimately succeed, in getting Krapels promoted. On Jan.1, 2013, more than two years from his visit to Walter Reed, Ferrrusi was able to pin Krapels with the rank of sergeant.

KrapelsPromotionB5WARDAK PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. Michael Krapels, a 25-year-old team leader for Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, gets promoted to sergeant during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Airborne in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, Jan. 1, 2013. Krapels, a native of Sparta, N.J., was deployed with Chosen Co. in 2010 when he was injured by machine gun fire. After more than 20 surgeries and rehabilitation, he fought to return and deploy again with Chosen Co. Krapels received a battlefield promotion and was pinned by U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Ferrusi, who was also with 2nd Battalion during OEF X. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Michael Sword, TF 173 Public Affairs) 

“In this business you invest in what you see, and his past performance to me was an indicator of his future potential,” said Ferrusi. “I told him that ‘I know you can beat this, I know you can come back and I’ll support you, I know it’s going to be hard, but I won’t waver on you if you don’t waver on me.”

“I stayed in touch with him the entire time, he’s doing great, he doesn’t let his injury interfere with his profession and now I get to promote him,” he added.

Krapels, with his positive, never-say-die attitude, is a living, breathing example to other Soldiers of the loyalty, drive and fight that has come to define the paratroopers of ‘The Rock.’

“He didn’t take no for an answer, continued to push himself physically and mentally to get himself back here to the unit where his true loyalties resided,” Larsen said. “He’s an awesome guy to have in the formation; I wish I had 100 of him.’

“To have a tangible example that you can point to so other paratroopers can see in their midst, every day, the right mindset of a paratrooper,” he continued. “I think  that’s what every commander wishes to have, an example they can always point to of a guy that doesn’t quit, a guy that doesn’t give up, who found a way to make it back to the unit and deploy with us. It’s a great success story.”

While the paratroopers of Chosen Co., continue to patrol Wardak Province, Krapels continues fighting the pain, but keeping a positive attitude as he does it, because he is finally back where feels he needs to be. 

“When you sign up as an infantryman during a time of war, you’re signing up to fight and when you get hurt and pulled out of a combat situation with guys that you’ve been training with forever, you feel like you lost your family,” Krapels said. “I knew that they were going to be the same people, just different names and I wanted to make sure that with some of the drive and experience I have, I could share it and help out.”

“It was good coming back,” he added. “I needed it.”

Airborne!


God Speed Stormin' Norman...

If you missed the news about the General...

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who commanded the U.S. led international coalition to drove Saddam Hussein's forces out of Kuwait in 1991, has died.

For those veterans of our battles today, who may have been watching Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird while this was going on (or maybe your Dad...or Mom {my bad} was serving), this was the man in action.  He laid it out for us and if you have ever worked in a TOC, JOC, or EOC; then you know what the term "briefing slide" means now and where it comes from.

  

He is something to watch...

"If it had been our intention to overrun the country, we could have done it unopposed."

This is perhaps the textbook way to do a briefing for the media.  He controlled the room, gave definitive answers, and ensured that he could tell them everything he could and most important to me, he let the fifth column leftists in the Lamestream Media who deep down wanted to publicly hate this war (because all wars are started by the U.S. of course) exactly what their place was.  Please take note of each of the whiners that get their hash settled in due course.

I am not sure that there hasn't been a briefing given this way since.

He didn't spend his time hanging out at a firebase somewhere either...

In 1966 he volunteered for Vietnam and served two tours, first as a U.S. adviser  to South Vietnamese paratroops and later as a battalion commander in the U.S.  Army's Americal Division. He earned three Silver Stars for valor -- including  one for saving troops from a minefield -- plus a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and  three Distinguished Service Medals.

Kind of makes that question to the reporter about being in a minefield mean a bit more....

God Bless you General and your service to this nation, God Bless your family and God Speed to you sir.


Tim Kennedy - There's a Time to be a Quiet Professional and then there's a time to tell it like it is

Tim Kennedy gives an interview and pulls no punches on MMA fighters that pull out of bouts for an injury, gun control, and leaving Strikeforce for the UFC. 

...Stephie Daniels: When you do come over, is there somebody in particular that you have in mind to fight?

Tim Kennedy: I'm fighting on January 12th, but if you tested positive for steroids, and you're running your mouth about how awesome you are, I pretty much want to punch you in the face, because you're embarrassing me and my sport. I don't even think we have time to cover them all. I"ve got the 12th to worry about, and that's what I'm focusing on. Then I'll worry about all the cheaters.

Stephie Daniels: Since we're on the topic of cheaters, are you a proponent of VADA?

Tim Kennedy: Absolutely. You can come over and draw a sample out of my eyeball, if you want...

And it gets better after that.  Be sure to read the whole interview.

Here's an older spot from Ranger Up about Tim:

Tim's last fight for Showtime's Strikeforce will be in Oklahoma City on January 12th.

We will be there supporting him all the way.


Book Review: Living With Honor

We've posted quite a bit about the 173rd Airborne in Afghanistan (and Iraq).  Some of the B5 authors have been privileged to meet some of the heroes from that courageous group of paratroopers.  And we've mourned too many of them...

A few years ago, I was honored to be the MC for the premiere of Restrepo in Chicago and host the Q&A after the film for director Sebastion Junger.  I was even more honored to meet Josh Brennan's father.  It was a remarkable experience. You can see video interviews of SSG Giunta here and here - these were done before he received the Medal of Honor.

And please read this review of Living with Honor and interview with SSG Giunta over at From Cow Pastures to Kosovo.

So that brings us to Elise Cooper's own review of SSG Sal Giunta's memoir for BlackFive readers. 

In a way, I think the title of the book should have been "Unbreakable"...it goes along with the Rock's reputation and, of course, the bond between soldiers in combat.  It's not a criticism, it's just how I view those guys:

SalStaff Sergeant Salvatore A. Giunta, A Medal of Honor Recipient, with Joe Layden has written a memoir, Living With Honor. This is truly a soldier’s story where he allows the American people to get a glimpse of what it is like to be in combat with those who are at first strangers, but then become a fraternity of brothers and sisters. 

He was stationed with the 173rd Airborne Brigade near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border in the Korengal Valley, known as the “Valley of Death” for its insurgent stronghold.  After being ambushed by Taliban insurgents Giunta engaged the enemy to rescue others from his unit. He administered first aid while he covered his squad leader with his own body, being struck by bullets a number of times.  After realizing that his buddy, Sergeant Josh Brennan, was missing he searched for him, finding him being taken by two insurgents.  He engaged them, killing one and wounding the other. 

After this harrowing experience he told BlackFive.net that he does not understand why these insurgents are not held “accountable for their actions of extremism.  Either we should be fully engaged and fight it properly or we should start sending people over there without guns and lets see if they feel safe.”

He wrote in the book that a soldier’s options are success or death with no margin for error and no opportunity to relax.  He explained, “Decisions have to made in a split second.  This will determine if you will live any longer in this world.  The rules of engagement given to us are not for fighting in a combat country but seem more like what we do in America with people who are for the most part fair minded. ” 

The most powerful parts of the book are the chapters about some of those who served with him.  He regards those men and women as family who “came together under a common flag, the Red, White, and Blue.  I wanted to give insight to the American people on who the soldier was.  Our military is vast and diverse, but it is 100% united, bonded by combat.”

He also talks about his and some of his buddies’ experiences as they returned home.  In one scene Sal tells how he would always tell his wife Jen that he was going to the bathroom.  The reason he included this, “I wanted to show how a soldier must transition from one mindset to another.  In combat everyone knows where you are at; otherwise, you might be in trouble.  After returning home, it was a really strange feeling to be alone.  I am very thankful that my wife is the stable part of my life.”

Living With Honor is a very candid, insightful, and riveting account of Sergeant Giunta’s experiences.   It illustrates the empowering and invaluable lessons he learned about combat and life.  He summarized his story, “I believe in the saying ‘the strongest medals are forged in the hottest flames and the flames of combat are insanely hot.’  We as soldiers have the strongest bond that is unbreakable.”

This is a book that we recommend that all of you should read.


"Sir, Tell the T.A.C.P. Thanks!"

You have to read this story by Brigadier General Jack Briggs about a firefight and the USAF TACP who did his job and then some:

'Sir, tell the TACP thanks'
by Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs II
Headquarters, Air Combat Command

12/6/2012 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. (AFNS) -- On 13 May 2010, an Airman First Class taught me some lessons I'll never forget. I think of Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes almost every week. His actions on that particular day in May remind me to focus on others first, that heroic leaders exist among us all the time, and doing the right thing takes courage but is worth it.

When troops on the ground in Afghanistan run into trouble, our asymmetric advantage is our ability to bring airpower to bear quickly and accurately. It was no different on 13 May. A patrol of soldiers ran into an ambush in eastern Afghanistan, receiving large volumes of enemy mortar, heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire. My formation of two F-15E Strike Eagles was called to support the "Troops in Contact" situation or "TIC." As we arrived on scene, there were already American wounded.

For the aircraft overhead, our contacts on the ground are young, well trained, and brave Airmen embedded with each Army unit; they are called Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). They are the node between the Army ground commanders and the Airmen providing support overhead. They translate the situation from the ground commander's perspective, integrate airpower into the plan of maneuver or fires, and guide our attacks with amazing precision. That can sound antiseptic and simple on paper but in the thick of the battle it is 100 percent adrenaline, noise, and concentration as bullets fly.

The fight on the ground was very violent by the time my flight arrived. Our initial contact was with Airman 1st Class Hughes who was yelling into the radio. He had to be loud as he keyed the mic because his voice was drowned out by the sound of gunfire in the background. His calls were quick and broken as he stopped to fire his own weapon in between radio calls. At one point he said, "Stand by" and the radio went silent. For the next few minutes we orbited overhead and waited. Where was he? We called but no answer. Finally his voice came back. He was out of breath and huffing into his mic, but he calmly gave us the plan to provide a show of force and cover the ingress of helicopters to evacuate the patrol, first the wounded and then the rest of the team. The show of force bought them time and space and eventually all were extracted safely from a tough situation.

After we landed and debriefed our mission, I headed to the Bagram Craig Joint Theater Hospital. Craig Hospital is one of the advanced coalition hospitals in Afghanistan that receives wounded from the battlefield and stabilizes them prior to their onward movement to more medical care in the US.
 
I visited regularly to talk with our medical warriors and see how the wounded were doing. On that day I had a chance to check up on several of the wounded from the very firefight we'd supported only hours before. I spoke to a few of the Soldiers from that fight, told them they were getting the best care in the world and turned to leave, when a shout of "Sir! Sir!" made me stop. I turned to see a shirtless wounded Soldier who was shot in the legs, calling out for my attention. He motioned me back. His eyes reflected his urgency to tell me something. I walked back, closed the curtain behind me, and crouched to get to his level on the bed.

"Sir, tell the TACP thanks," he urgently requested. I asked what happened. His story explained the mystery from earlier in the day when A1C Hughes went silent on the radio. This Soldier was moving from one position to another during the firefight and was hit in the legs. Unable to move, he took what cover he could. While performing his primary duty of directing air support, Airman 1st Class Hughes noticed that this Soldier could not move on his own, told us to "stand by", and ran toward him. He picked the Soldier up and fireman-carried him to a covered position. The Soldier said the one thing he would never forget was that while he was being carried several hundred meters through deadly fire was staring at a patch on the shoulder of his rescuer. The patch read "TACP." The Soldier didn't know the Airman's name nor did he see him again. He just asked that I pass along the thanks somehow.

I spent the next few days tracking the TACP down and that's when I met Airman 1st Class Hughes and heard his story first hand. I told him when our F-15E formation checked in we heard the shooting in the background of every radio call. I described how we listened to his clipped calls to us, his calm call to us to "stand by" and then how there were minutes of silence, leaving us concerned as to what was happening. I told him we then heard him breathlessly get back on the radio as he called for our show of force.

"What was going on down there?" I asked. He told me how some of the wounded were near his position and he was going back and forth, under heavy fire, to check on them, give them water and help them out the best he could until MEDEVAC arrived. Corey said he saw a Soldier who could not move on his own and immediately went to pick him up and carry him to safety. Airman 1st Class Hughes then retraced his steps through the enemy fire to get back to his position and continue to call in our effects. What immediately caught my attention was Airman 1st Class Hughes' tone of voice. He clearly believed his actions weren't anything special and others would do the same if in that situation.

I often consider the lessons Airman 1st Class Corey Hughes taught that day. His actions inspire us to put others first, understanding there can be a cost. His example affirms that there are brave leaders all around us willing to step forward when it counts, despite the risks. He reminds me that both success and courage are defined by doing what is right, even as the bullets fly. Like the wounded Soldier, I also want to tell the TACP, A1C Hughes, "thanks."


Know of anyone with an MOH and 4 Navy Crosses?

Well, you will in a minute.

I know, you're saying it has to be a Marine, right?

Uh, no.  

A submarine skipper.  

The alternate title could be "if you're name is Fluckey, you'd better be good".  Well, Eugene Fluckey was very good and the story of his sub, the USS Barb is one for the history books.  It is the only submarine that I know of that sunk a train.

He's definitely someone you should know.

Here's the story (as sent to my by a friend): 220px-RAdm_Eugene_B_Fluckey_color

July 18, 1945 In Patience Bay, off the coast of Karafuto, Japan.

It was after 4 A.M. And Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned the submarine's command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make a fifth trip with the men he cared for like a father.

Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and should have been his final war patrol, that Commander Fluckey's success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.

Continue reading "Know of anyone with an MOH and 4 Navy Crosses?" »