22 October 2007

Medal Of Honor

You never see any good news about the War in the general media, so I think it would be nice to share three sad, but inspiring stories to you all:

Lt. Michael Murphy- United States Navy

The first Medal of Honor awarded for combat in Afghanistan will be presented to the family of a Navy SEAL from Long Island, who gave his life to make a radio call for help for his team.

President Bush was to present the nation's highest military honor for valor on Monday to the family of Lt. Michael Murphy of Patchogue, N.Y.

"There's a lot of awards in the military, but when you see a Medal of Honor, you know whatever they went through is pretty horrible. You don't congratulate anyone when you see it," said Marcus Luttrell, the lone member of Murphy's team to survive the firefight with the Taliban.

Murphy, Luttrell and two other SEALs were searching for a terrorist in the Afghan mountains on June 28, 2005, when their mission was compromised after they were spotted by locals, who presumably alerted the Taliban to their presence.

An intense gun battle ensued, with more than 50 anti-coalition fighters swarming around the outnumbered SEALs.

Although wounded, Murphy is credited with risking his own life by moving into the open for a better position to transmit a call for help.

Still under fire, Murphy provided his unit's location and the size of the enemy force. At one point he was shot in the back, causing him to drop the transmitter. Murphy picked it back up, completed the call and continued firing at the enemy who was closing in.

He then returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle. A U.S. helicopter sent to rescue the men was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all 16 aboard.

By the end of the two-hour gunfight, Murphy and two of his comrades were also dead. An estimated 35 Taliban were also killed. Luttrell was blown over a ridge and knocked unconscious. He escaped, and was protected by local villagers for several days before he was rescued.

"We look at these guys and say, 'What heroes,"' said Murphy's father, Dan Murphy. "These guys look at themselves and say, 'I'm just doing my job.' That's an understatement, but that's the way they view it, and that was Michael's whole life."

Murphy, who died before his 30th birthday, is the fourth Navy SEAL to earn the award and the first since the Vietnam War. Two Medals of Honor have been awarded posthumously in the Iraq war: to Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham, who was killed in 2004 after covering a grenade with his helmet, and to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, who was killed in 2003 after holding off Iraqi forces with a machine gun before he was killed at the Baghdad airport.

Murphy's heroics have been widely recognized on Long Island, where he graduated in 1994 from Patchogue-Medford High School.

To his fellow SEALs, he was known as "Murph," but as a child, his parents nicknamed him "The Protector," because of his strong moral compass. After the 2001 terror attacks, that compass eventually led him to Afghanistan, where he wore a patch of the New York City Fire Department on his uniform.

"He took his deployment personally. He was going after, and his team was going after, the men who planned, plotted against and attacked not only the United States, but the city he loved, New York," said his father. "He knew what he was fighting for."

Corporal Jason L. DUNHAM,USMC

WASHINGTON (Jan. 20, 2007) -- The Medal of Honor awarded Jan. 11 at a recent White House ceremony belongs to all service members, according to the parents of the man who earned the honor.

Cpl. Jason L. Dunham of Scio, N.Y., posthumously received America's highest military decoration two years and nine months after succumbing to a mortal brain injury while fighting in Iraq. He served with K Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, based in Twentynine Palms, Calif.

"We're accepting this honor for Jason, but we're also accepting this in all the servicemen and women's names," said mother Debra Dunham.

"Jason believed that all men on this earth should be free," said father Dan Dunham. "He also believed in his friends."

The Navy Medal of Honor, shared with the Marine Corps, is a bronze medallion hanging from an anchor sewn to a sky-blue ribbon. Presented posthumously, it is encased in oak and glass; otherwise, its bearer would wear it around his neck. But the latest Marine bestowed with the honor was not present in the flesh.

In spirit, on the other hand, Dunham filled every corner of the White House.

"We wish that Jason would have been able to be here so we could watch him," said Deb. "But we know he's watching."

In a lively reunion of sorts, more than 80 Marines from Dunham's unit soaked up their stately surroundings – many with digital cameras.v Lounging about the White House and bedecked in dress blues, the men laughed and cried as a band of brothers, a bond forged in combat, according to Maj. Trent Gibson, who was Dunham's company commander.

Six venerable Medal of Honor recipients attended the ceremony, as well as some of America's highest military and government figures.

Seated among others in the East Room were Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Peter Pace, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway.

Before the citation was read, President George W. Bush gave personal praise to Jason: "He had a natural gift for leadership, and a compassion that led him to take others under his wing. The Marine Corps took the best of this young man, and made it better."

Bush said Jason represented the best of young Americans.

The room came to attention as the president took his position beside the mother. The narrator began reciting: "The President of the United States, in the name of the Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to …"

Hearing her son's name, Deb's body began wrenching slightly, apparently trying to contain her emotions. With a tearful president at her left and Dan at her right, Deb held their hands throughout the citation – or they held hers. Dan and Deb's three children stood behind them.

The citation went on: "By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Cpl. Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country …"

With the citation given, Bush presented the encased medal to the family.

Acknowledging all service members afterward, the father said "Their names are all attached to this medal. They're all courageous. They all have valor. It's something that I want them all to know: They're part of this medal. It's as much theirs as it is Jason's."

Wall Street Journal reporter Michael M. Phillips, who covered the war in Iraq alongside Dunham's unit, also attended the ceremony. Phillips first introduced Dunham's story to a mass audience with a front-page article published May 25, 2004. He later wrote the unabridged story in "The Gift of Valor; A War Story," which narrates Jason's life and death, from growing up in Scio, to giving his life in service to country, to an eight-day journey home battling his wounds.

On April 14, 2004, in Iraq near the Syrian border, the corporal used his helmet and his body to smother an exploding Mills Bomb let loose by a raging insurgent whom Dunham and two other Marines tried to subdue.

The explosion dazed and wounded Lance Cpl. William Hampton and Pfc. Kelly Miller. The insurgent stood up after the blast and was immediately killed by Marine small-arms fire.

After the grenade exploded under Dunham's helmet, he lay face down with a few tiny pieces of shrapnel lodged in his head. The hard, molded mesh that was his Kevlar helmet was now scattered yards around into clods and shredded fabric. Dunham never regained consciousness and died eight days later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with his mother and father at his bedside. He was 22.

Dunham, buried in Scio, is the second warrior and first Marine to earn the medal since the war in Iraq began. On April 4, 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith posthumously earned the medal for organizing a defense that held off a company-sized attack on more than 100 vulnerable coalition soldiers.

In the defense, Smith manned a .50 caliber machine gun in an exposed position until he was mortally wounded.

Before Dunham, the last Marine actions to earn the medal happened May 8, 1970, in Vietnam, according to Marine Corps History Division records. A Medal of Honor citation details Lance Cpl. Miguel Keith's machine-gun charge that inspired a platoon facing nearly overwhelming odds: Wounded, Keith ran into "fire-swept terrain." Wounded again by a grenade, he still attacked, taking out enemies in the forward rush.

Keith fought until mortally wounded; his platoon came out on top despite being heavily outnumbered.

The last Marine to receive the Medal of Honor was Maj. Gen. James L. Day, who distinguished himself as a corporal in the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. On Jan. 20, 1998, more than half a century later, President Bill Clinton presented the medal to Day, who passed away that year.

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith- US Army

Sgt. First Class Paul R. Smith, killed nearly two years ago defending his vastly outnumbered Army unit in a fierce battle with elite Iraqi troops for control of Baghdad's airport, will receive the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest military award, administration officials said Tuesday.

No soldier who served in Afghanistan or Iraq after the Sept. 11 attacks has yet received the medal. The last conflict to produce a Medal of Honor recipient was in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993; two soldiers were awarded the medal posthumously for actions there, later depicted in the movie "Black Hawk Down."

Sergeant Smith led a defense of a compound next to the airport against a much larger force of Special Republican Guard troops, manning a heavy machine gun, repeatedly firing and reloading three times before he was mortally wounded. Fellow soldiers said his actions killed 20 to 50 Iraqis, allowed wounded American soldiers to be evacuated, and saved an aid station and perhaps 100 lives.

Sergeant Smith's "extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor without regard to his own life in order to save others are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service," a draft of the medal citation says.

President Bush will present the award to Sergeant Smith's widow and children at a White House ceremony on Monday, the second anniversary of the airport battle and the soldier's death.

The story of Paul Ray Smith is that of an ordinary recruit from Tampa, Fla., who fresh out of high school joined the Army not out of patriotism but for a steady paying job, and who 15 years later, as a battle-hardened platoon sergeant, was hurled into an extraordinary test, for which he paid the ultimate price.

More than one million military men and women have served in Afghanistan or Iraq since 2001. But Sergeant Smith is the only one whose actions earned an award nomination that has reached this point after wending its way through more than 12 levels of military and presidential reviews over the last two years.

Sergeant Smith's commanders submitted several eyewitness accounts, diagrams of the battle scene and other supporting documents to the Army. A year ago, an Army review board sent back the application, requesting more detailed information about the battle, Army officers said on Tuesday.

Military officials said several factors weighed in nominating Sergeant Smith for the medal, including the intensity of the 90-minute firefight on that scorching spring morning; the risk of the enemy attack to some 100 other American soldiers; the ultimate defeat of the Iraqi attack; and Sergeant Smith's death in battle.

Since the medal was created in the Civil War, there have been 3,440 recipients, but only 842 since World War II, when the requirements were tightened. There are 125 living recipients of the award, according to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Most recipients have been unsung soldiers who acted valiantly in a moment of extraordinary pressure. More celebrated recipients include William F. Cody - Buffalo Bill - for gallantry as a scout; Theodore Roosevelt, for his charge up San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War; and Second Lt. Audie Murphy, for heroics in World War II.

"The Medal of Honor has great symbolic value," said Richard H. Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina. "For the American public, it says, 'We want to thank you with this very highest award possible.' For the troops, it says, 'This guy represented the best of soldiering that we aspire to.' "

Sergeant Smith, 33, was a combat engineer in the Third Infantry Division that swept up from Kuwait on the march to Baghdad. His unit, B Company of the 11th Engineer Battalion, was attached to Second Battalion, Seventh Infantry, and had seized its part of the Baghdad airport on the evening of April 3, 2003.

The next morning, Sergeant Smith and about 15 other soldiers were building a holding pen for prisoners in a compound on the north side of the highway into the airport, on the battalion's flank, when the compound came under attack by some 100 Iraqi soldiers.

"He told me, 'We're in a world of hurt,' " Staff Sgt. Kevin W. Yetter said in an interview with The New York Times several weeks after the battle. "Yeah, I guess we were in a world of hurt."

According to a draft of the medal citation and the company's soldiers, Sergeant Smith organized the engineers' defense, calling in support from a Bradley fighting vehicle. Under a barrage of mortar fire, rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire, he hurled a grenade over the compound's wall and blasted an antitank missile at a guard tower.

Still, Iraqi soldiers held the tower and kept firing into the compound.

"We were pinned down," First Sgt. Tim Campbell told The Providence Journal, which had a reporter traveling with troops at the airport. "They had this planned. They found the lightest defended area and attacked."

A mortar round hit an armored engineering vehicle known as an M-113. Sergeant Yetter was inside it. The blast momentarily blinded him. It also seriously wounded Sgt. Louis D. Berwald, the gunner on top, and another soldier. Sergeant Smith helped evacuate the three to an aid station, which was suddenly imperiled by the mounting attack.

Faced with pulling back to a safer position or holding fast, Sergeant Smith took over Sergeant Berwald's .50-caliber gun, firing and reloading before he was shot in the neck.

"If they'd gotten by, there probably would have been dozens of deaths," Lt. Col. Scott Rutter, the retired commander of the Second Battalion, said in a telephone interview.

Sergeant Smith grew up in Tampa, enlisted in the Army in 1989 and served in the 1991 Persian Gulf war. As a sergeant, he was considered a taskmaster, insisting his troops keep their weapons spotless, Cpl. Daniel Medrano, who served with the sergeant in Bosnia in 2001, told The St. Petersburg Times. Sergeant Smith would push a Q-tip into rifle barrels, looking for dirt, Corporal Medrano said.

Reached at her home in Holiday, Fla., on Tuesday, Sergeant Smith's widow, Birgit, expressed gratitude. "I'm proud and honored that Paul would be recognized by his country in such a meaningful way," she said in a telephone interview. "He loved his country; he loved the Army; and he loved his soldiers."

Robocop's Comment:

Are these the only brave warriors we produced in this war? Hell no. Previously in this blog, I posted a link listing most of the HEROES in this epic struggle our country is involved in. The point of this post is that these three men, even after an honorable death, won the greatest honor the United States can bestow upon them. They exemplify the actions, and mindset of most of our troops. They are true role models for our youth. Sure, the general media will find that single digit percent of defeatists who should not have been given the uniform in the first place. THAT is what they do. Whenever you see some spinless jellyfish in front of a camera disrespecting the REAL veterans of this war, remember the servicemen listed above. Do they do it for God and Country? Do they do it for each other? That is between God and them. They just did it. May they rest in peace. May their comrades emerge VICTORIOUS.


Sandy said...

Courage is fear that has said it's prayers.

God Bless You

AnGlOpHiLe FoOtBaLl FaNaTiC said...

What a fitting tribute. I appreciate you as a vet, all the men & women out fighting, and all the families' split during deployment. Very good post.

Oh, and just "Ahh, the Fighting Irish" ?? Your wife at least did the Hook Em with me.

LOVE your Yours/Not Yours map. Have you heard about the crazy professor at UTA who is actively trying to get Mexico to retake Cali, Az, NM, & TX as it was stolen land??

Robocop said...


Thanks for the visit. I have heard of a whole group of people who are trying to "retake" CA, NM, AZ, and TX because it is "stolen Native American and Mexican land." The group is called La Raza. A couple of points that they miss. First, Mexicans themselves are also descended from the Spanish (European type) that conquered them those 400 years ago, not just from the people that were conquered. They never talk about that though. And they certainly do not speak Aztec. Second, if they would, by some ungodly miracle, retake those states, I am sure they would do the same stand out job in managing those territories that they are famous for in managing their own country. That is why half their population is sneaking over our border.

dawn said...

This is a great way to honour those who have served the people well. There are many like you say who risk it all on a daily basis. They too are honoured each time one of their own is acknowledged for their bravery.

lisa's chaos said...

They all look so young to have done what they did and no longer be with us.