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Random Thoughts Of Yet Another Military Member

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stories Worth Retelling

First story that I think that needs to be retold is the story of Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, who currently is the only Congressional Medal Of Honor receipent (posthumously unfortunately) awarded for actions in Iraq. His CMOH citation reads:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.


A true American hero.

The Second story that needs to be retold, I found reposted at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler blog. I originally saw this article and accompanied picture in a email that was sent around a few months ago, and unfortunately didn't keep it.

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Marine Gunnery Sergeant Randy Burghardt shows that he cannot be stopped by a IED. He is a Marine EOD Technician and well known through Iraq for his skills. Here is what led up to the picture being taken, told by Stars And Stripes:

Last September, an embedded journalist snapped a photo of Burghardt moments after a roadside bomb exploded on him in a notoriously troubled corner of western Ramadi — a city that Burghardt describes as “the scariest place on Earth.” The image shows Burghardt with bloodied legs and shredded uniform, flipping the bird to an unseen insurgent who triggered the bomb.

The day Burghardt found himself checkmated by a roadside bomber was Sept. 19. He was in Ramadi’s wild Tammim neighborhood as part of a team of bomb technicians responding to the scene of a chaotic ambush in which four U.S. personnel were killed.

Burghardt, who was looking to clear an evacuation route for the vehicles, hopped into what he thought was a recent bomb crater. He said he saw an interesting piece of shrapnel in the 4½-foot- deep hole and wanted to investigate. As he took a closer look, the shattered gravel beneath his foot suddenly shifted, revealing a package wrapped in orange plastic and a cordless telephone base station.

Realizing that he had just stumbled onto a primed explosive, Burghardt stuck his knife in the dirt and dredged up a red detonating cord that led to a pair of 122 mm artillery shells. He cut the cord with scissors and told the rest of his team to stay back.

“I thought I had done good,” Burghardt said.

But what he didn’t realize was that a second detonating cord ran from the base station to a third artillery shell buried behind him. The triggerman, figuring perhaps that he wouldn’t lure anyone else into the trap that day, placed a telephone call to the base station.

“That’s when I heard the distinct crack of that artillery shell,” Burghardt said.

The explosion sent Burghardt 10 feet into the air and dropped him in a heap on the road as his team watched in horror.

Medics cut away his bloody pants to reveal that the backs of his legs had been studded with shrapnel and bruised from the top of his boots to his waist. As they prepared to place him in a stretcher, Burghardt shouted, “No.” He didn’t want his teammates or the insurgents to see him carried from the scene. He was going to walk.

As he was helped to his feet, Burghardt said, he felt a wave of anger and adrenaline flow through his system. He had just extended his Iraq tour that morning and he was livid that he had been bested by the bomber.

“I was really pissed off that they got me, that after all this time, they got me,” Burghardt said. “I figured the triggerman was still watching, so I flipped him off. I yelled, ‘[Expletive] you! I’ll be out here next week!’”

It was at this moment that photographer Jeff Bundy of the Omaha (Neb.) World-Herald snapped the photo that would be seen on office walls, refrigerators, screensavers, Web sites and newspapers throughout Iraq and the U.S.


If I ever happend upon meeting Gunny Burghardt, he wouldn't have to worry about buying a beer as long as I have money....

Thanks to the Military Outpost for the link

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