Iraq

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Gen. John Kelly, newly appointed Commander of US Southern Command

Below is a segment of the 2010 Veterans Day Speech given by Gen. John Kelly where he describes, in eloquent terms, the final seconds of two great Marines: Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter. After hearing their story he took the time to find out the heroic details of what they did, then made sure these Marines got the medals they deserved. Both were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. This speech went viral on the internet, but I figured some readers of Modern American Heroes might not have seen it. This speech was given merely weeks after Gen. Kelly tragically lost his son, 2nd Lt. Robert M. Kelly. The younger Kelly was on his third combat deployment since 9/11 when he stepped on an IED and was killed instantly. On November 19th Gen. John Kelly received his 4th Star and was named the new Commander of Southern Command.

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Six Seconds to Live

“I will leave you with a story about the kind of people they are…about the quality of the steel in their backs…about the kind of dedication they bring to our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans. Two years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact, the 22nd of April 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its seven-month combat tour. Two Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter, 22 and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down ramshackle building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until recently the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al Qaeda.

With only seconds left to live Corporal Jonathan Yale "leaned into danger" and fired as fast as he could.

Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this on a yearly salary of less than $23,000. Haerter, on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island. They were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines they would never have met each other, or understood that multiple America’s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level, economic status, and where you might have been born. But they were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer, than if they were born of the same woman.

“Let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.”

The mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went something like: “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” “You clear?” I am also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison something like: “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the point without saying the words, “No kidding sweetheart, we know what we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq.

A few minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way-perhaps 60-70 yards in length-and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of where the two were posted and detonated, killing them both catastrophically. Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and American brothers-in-arms.

“No sane man would have stood there and done what they did.”

When I read the situation report about the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental commander for details as something about this struck me as different. Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We expect Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission takes. But this just seemed different. The regimental commander had just returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no American witnesses to the event-just Iraqi police. I figured if there was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew immediately what was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.” The Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man, ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were injured…some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears welling up said, “They [didn’t] run like any normal man would to save his life.” “What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “and what he learned that very instant, was that Marines are not normal.” Choking past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God no sane man would have stood there and done what they did. No sane man. They saved us all.”

Both Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter pictured here and Corporal Jonathan Yale were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for their acts of bravery.

Last Six Seconds in the Life of Two Heroes

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras, damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives. Putting myself in their heads I supposed it took about a second for the two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley. Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before: “…let no unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass.” The two Marines had about five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time. Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were-some running right past the Marines. They had three seconds left to live.

With One Second to Live They “Leaned into the Danger”

For about two seconds more, the recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop…the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore in to the body of the [driver] who is trying to get past them to kill their brothers -American and Iraqi- bedded down in the barracks totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended entirely on two Marines standing their ground. If they had been aware, they would have known they were safe…because two Marines stood between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck careening to a stop immediately in front of the two Marines. In all of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as fast as they could work their weapons. They had only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave young men to do their duty…into eternity. That is the kind of people who are on watch all over the world tonight-for you.

We Marines believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man while he lived on this earth-freedom. We also believe he gave us another gift nearly as precious-our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines-to safeguard that gift and guarantee no force on this earth can every steal it away. It has been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will forever remain the “land of the free and home of the brave” so long as we never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do us harm.

God Bless America, and….SEMPER FIDELIS!

 

 

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Col. Gordon Batcheller USMC (Ret.)

During the 1968 Tet Offensive, then Captain Gordon Batcheller earned the Navy Cross when his unit, Company A, 1st Battalion Marines, engaged a numerically superior force of the North Vietnamese Army. Although injured by shrapnel, he aggressively led his men in a fierce assault against the enemy and was seriously wounded in both legs when the column began receiving heavy fire from both flanks. He supported himself with his elbows, resolutely continued to direct his men, and bravely encouraged those near him even as he lay receiving medical treatment. As a result of his determined efforts, the reaction force reached the embattled city of Hue.

Colonel Batcheller joined the Marine Corp in 1960 and retired in 1991. His assignments included rifle platoon commander, 81mm mortar platoon commander, rifle company executive officer, rifle company commander, landing support battalion commander, and infantry battalion commander. He is a National War College graduate, and was a professor of military and strategic studies for seven years at the Army Management Staff College.

Women in Combat

Why We Should Not Send Our Mothers, Wives
and Daughters to Fight Our Wars

Crusade Magazine: Do you think that the current operational effectiveness of our military is lacking because we refuse to allow women in combat?

Colonel Gordon Batcheller: For the last forty years we have deliberately increased the involvement of women in combat. They fly combat airplanes and helicopters, man navy ships, including nuclear submarines, and fill combat support and service positions that expose them to close combat. Just recently 14,000 positions in the combat zone were opened to women. Civilians are pressuring the military, primarily the Army and Marine Corps, to open the infantry and other combat arms positions to women.

The process started when the All Volunteer Force discovered it wasn’t getting enough men; rudely put, women weren’t better than men, but they were better than nothing, at least when restricted to assignments where their associated friction could be best managed. As their presence increased, so did substantial evidence of the difficulties the mix created. No one has sought more women to better the combat force or claimed that our current mixed force is more effective than an all male force would be; and no historian has held that a coed force would have fought any of our wars more effectively than they were fought. If women improved the force’s combat effectiveness, you would expect the military to pressure its civilian master to give it more women without restrictions. The pressure today is in the other direction; civilians are trying to impose a less effective force on the military.

Crusade: Would allowing women in combat positions lead to the loss of combat effectiveness? If so why and how?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes! I guess the basic reason is that women are not equal substitutes for men. They are different, and this causes a host of problems. It is not their “fault,” nor is it attributable to any inherent incompetence. Women are different, and men view and treat them as such. Our cultural values, distilled from our Judeo-Christian civilization affirm this truth and inform us on what is appropriate or acceptable.

Effectiveness in combat depends on trained individuals, bound by trust and confidence — a belief ultimately that we will do right by each other. I have never known any man who thought it right to expose women to the butchery he will accept for himself or his male colleagues. Our idea of manhood would hold such butchery as shameful. Shame is not an inspiring war-winning emotion.

The infantry lives and works in a violent, barbaric world where the most grotesque of Hollywood’s special effects is routine reality. There is no quality of life beyond staying alive: no comfort, no privacy, and no provisions for hygiene. Endurance — both physical and emotional — and raw strength are essential. The battlefield is a man’s world.

Crusade: Should we want our women to fight? Why not?

Colonel Batcheller: The values of our major religions, Western Civilization, and our culture say “no.” The values that sustain our military say “no.” Our idea of manhood says it would be shameful. The thought of sending wives, mothers, and daughters to fight our wars while their men drive the children to soccer practice is contemptible. It is not that women cannot fight and kill and help us repel an attack or invasion in a “last stand.” But our culture objects to enlisting them in a “first call” case, and operational effectiveness resists their involvement in any case. Ideally, the military would be a male operation. In our world the challenge is to find a sensible, cost-effective use of women in the military while keeping them where they would not have to fight, or be able to distract or disrupt those fighting.

Crusade: Back in 1993, surveys showed that an overwhelming majority of women said they did not want to be in a combat unit. Is there a purpose for women to be placed in infantry positions?

The military is created and structured to win wars, and its personnel policies are crafted to serve that end, not satisfy vocational whims.

Colonel Batcheller: Not on the basis of military merit. Militant feminists and diversity worshippers have their fatuous “purposes,” but no positive purpose motivates the military to put women in foxholes.

While some seek to radically change the United States by destroying our current values, others seek to weaken the military and humble our nation. One does not have to be a conspiracy nut to acknowledge that such people exist and are active, and that this destructive initiative fits their purposes.

Some advocates also insist it is a woman’s right to serve in the military if she wants. That, of course, is nonsense. The military is created and structured to win wars, and its personnel policies are crafted to serve that end, not satisfy vocational whims.

Crusade: Some claim women push for infantry positions because they want to achieve higher rank and advance their careers. Is this being forced on women or is it something they want?

Colonel Batcheller: It is fair to say that achieving high rank is dependent on having had the “right” jobs, and having done them well. Command assignments of combat units during combat are essential for professional credibility.

A female Marine communicator is not going to become commandant. But the military exists to win wars, not to provide successful career patterns. Personnel policies, and their derivative assignments, are for the good of the service, not the happiness of the individuals being assigned.

Crusade: Do mixed units favor the enemy when it comes to combat?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes. By weakening our side we help the enemies. You will hear of the success other countries have had with coed forces, with Israel usually mentioned as the ultimate proof. But it is my understanding that the Israelis have found the concept doesn’t work and have abandoned it. The male soldiers became too concerned, protective and distracted. Women help defend their kibbutz just like American women helped defend their wagon train or homestead; and they serve in the military, but not in coed combat formations.

Crusade: People have made this issue one about gender equality. How would you answer those who subscribe to this ideological egalitarianism?

Colonel Batcheller: Men and women may be equal in the Declaration of Independence, but how many women play in the National Football League? College football? High School football? Last time I looked, men and women are different. And even if the differences created no performance advantages, the inescapable sexual dynamics inflict seriously disruptive forces on our coed organizations. The military exists to win wars, not to serve as an equal opportunity employer.

Crusade: Could you comment on the physical requirements of combat and are women capable of enduring it?

Colonel Batcheller: My experience was as an infantryman. Our world was somewhat different than that of a tank crewman or artillery officer. We had to be half beast of burden and operate far off the beaten track and beyond reach of reliable mechanical support. Conditions were primitive, quality of life non-existent, exposure to the elements constant. What we had, we pretty much carried. Coverage of the wars of the last ten years has provided a good picture of the loads carried by individual soldiers during operations — loads increase when units have to relocate. Upper body strength and load-carrying ability are essential — the stronger and more enduring, the more valuable. We have never been able to reduce the individual soldier’s personal load — it frequently exceeds 75 pounds, before you add a wounded colleague. Women in such an environment quickly become liabilities. Nor would they function well in the miserable living conditions, lack of privacy, absence of hygiene and so forth. It’s a man’s world.

Crusade: Are there emotional issues that need to be addressed?

Colonel Batcheller: There would be emotional issues for both sexes, and for the nation as a whole. This is something alien to our national character and hostile to our concept of civilization. The butchery of our wives and daughters and mothers would generate a national mood of sadness and shame. There has been no coverage of the killed and disabled women in Iraq and Afghanistan, even as we “celebrate” the male wounded warriors. We’re proud of our fighting forces, but ashamed that they include women. Infantrymen would feel this shame tenfold — they can handle the butchery until it involves someone that reminds them of their kid sister.

Jessica Lynch rescued from enemy captors in Iraq
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, U.S. Army Pfc. Jessica D. Lynch was captured by enemy forces and raped repeatedly.

Crusade: What should we expect from the enemy should a woman combatant fall into their hands?

Colonel Batcheller: History has answered this question. Human nature hasn’t changed. Our enemies seldom start with our basic values, and combat is corrosive and de-humanizing. But, if we’re comfortable ordering our women and girls into the explosive violence of the battlefield, why should we be upset if they are violated?

Crusade: Based on your experience, do you think our young servicemen could, over time, be trained to treat women troops the same as men?

Colonel Batcheller: No. Nor would women accept being treated as men. This issue becomes especially significant in leader/led relationships. Most men have serious problems subordinating to women in a neutral environment. This would only get worse in a masculine environment. Thinking we can eliminate or tame sex reflects colossal arrogance, or stupidity.

Crusade: Because this is such a politically charged issue, do you think some are afraid to express their honest opinion? If so, do you feel that this limits our ability to make the best choice for our national security?

Colonel Batcheller: Yes. The military is properly subordinate to civilian authorities. The Commander-in-Chief is the President, the rule writers and check payers are Congress. Most of us have trouble “taking on the boss.” In the military there are additional concerns about disloyalty, disobedience, and insubordination. Additionally, the “pyramids” of these organizations are manned by ambitious individuals who generally want to keep their careers alive. Candor and honesty are dangerous, sometimes fatal. We have had four-star officers — generals and admirals, active duty and retired — publicly support the admission of homosexuals into the military, and the assignment of women into combat roles. None argued from military merit or advantage; it was the politically advantageous thing to do. Washington is a corrosive, disorienting environment. The major “players” are politicians, even if they wear a uniform. Very few leave Washington with more virtue than they brought in. Some go over to the dark side, most find reasons to justify not being contentious, or accept unsound policies after token opposition. Given the ignorance Congress and the President demonstrate about military matters, we should expect to observe respectful resistance from our military “leaders” with public examination of the objects of disagreement. For a host of reasons, we don’t. National security suffers as it ultimately depends upon an educated citizenry. Don’t believe anyone that says this is not a serious morale problem.

There is another major concern that is widespread, but difficult to isolate. Producing combat units — companies and battalions and squadrons and such — is a complex undertaking, and the primary business of the military. In the face of complexity the sacred tenet of KISS — Keep It Simple Stupid — is frequently invoked. Adding women to the mix creates frictions and burdens not only in the units where they mix, but in service-wide areas of personnel management, logistics, facilities, and administration; the more pervasive the mix, the more extensive the costs. All the Service academies have experienced sex-based scandals, and all services have been plagued with such misconduct, both in operational units and the support establishment. The cumulative cost of our coed military in time and effort is beyond calculation, but considerable.

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Sgt. Rafael Peralta died while smothering a grenade during the battle for Fallujah.

I just came across a story today about Pfc. Ricardo Peralta, who joined the Marines to carry on the legacy of his brother, Navy Cross Recipient Sergeant Rafael Peralta.

Sgt. Peralta died very much like Michael Monsoor when he led a group of other Marines through a series of house clearings, during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. They were successful in the first three house, but things went bad in a hurry as they charged the fourth.

The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project describes how Sgt. Peralta “found two rooms empty on the ground floor, but upon opening a third door he was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire that left him severely wounded. He dropped to the floor and moved aside in order to allow the Marines behind him to return fire.”

Moments later terrorist inside the room threw a grenade at the Marines. Sgt. Peraldas describes how “The two Marines with Sgt. Peralta tried to get out of the room, but could not. Sgt. Peralta was still conscious on the floor and reports indicate that despite his wounds, he was able to reach for the grenade and pull it under his body absorbing the majority of the lethal blast and shrapnel which killed him instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.”

In a Newsweek article about the event, Cpl. Robert Reynolds explained how Sgt. Peralta collapsed onto the floor in a “pool of blood,” after being shot. “Then Reynolds spotted what is the dread of every infantryman: a grenade bouncing toward the squad. “It was yellow and it came from a room to our side,” he says. Reynolds says he watched Peralta reach out and drag the grenade under his body.”

Pfc Ricardo Peralta was only 14 when his brother died in such a selfless way, but is quoted in the above article as saying, “I knew what I had to do, and that was to enlist in the Marine Corps.”

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Christopher Adlesperger was a "soft hearted kid" his grandmother said.

by Norman Fulkerson

Christopher Adlesperger, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, received the Navy Cross when he singled handedly eliminated 13 Taliban in a vicious firefight. While he will always be remembered for the outstanding actions, which earned him a Navy Cross, his grandmother, Lynda Adlesperger, described the young man behind the heroics.

He is most commonly described, by those who knew him, as a soft-spoken, religious young man who loved poetry and art. What people don’t know are the difficulties he had to endure early in life.

When only 3 years old his parents divorced, leaving Christopher with the struggles of growing up in a single parent household. Like many children of divorce, Christopher was forced to grow up quickly. He also showed a great sensitivity towards the weakness and vulnerability of those around him and never refused them a helping hand.

When bullies at school singled out the weaker kid to pester, Christopher was the one stepped in to defend the innocent.

“Chris was so soft hearted,” Mrs. Adelsperger said, “he would do anything to help someone who was less fortunate. He was always for the underdog.”

His interventions were never done in anger however since he was generally not one to lose his temper. In fact he was a very easygoing kid who was known to play practical jokes and tease people. Mrs. Adlesperger witnessed a sample of his lighthearted banter one day when their elderly neighbor lady, out of gratitude for Christopher’s help, baked him some cookies. This was her way of repaying the young man for voluntarily mowing her lawn. With a twinkle in his eye, Christopher looked at his grandfather Edwin and said, “You don’t get any.” Only after a long and playful exchange between the two, did Christopher allow his “grandpa” a sample.

 

2001 photo of Christopher left with his grandfather, the same year that Edwin Adlesperger was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.

Turning point in his life

After his parents divorce, he practically grew up in his grandparent’s home and became extremely attached to his Grandfather. It was clear that of all Mr. Adlesperger’s grandchildren, Christopher was without a doubt, his favorite. Seeing the struggles he faced, Mr. Adlesperger paid a lot of attention to him, helped him when he was in trouble and was always there to listen.

In 1998 Mr. Adlesperger health began to decline rapidly due to emphysema and an enlarged heart. In 2001, when Christopher was only 14, Edwin was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Christopher was devastated. He had grown so accustomed to rely on his grandfather’s guidance during difficult times. True to his nature, he remained strong for his grandmother. Mr. Adlesperger would now need round the clock care, and she needed his help.

“You could not have asked for a better kid,” she said.

 

“I am going to be the best.”

In 2004 Edwin Adlesperger died and Christopher felt completely lost and without direction.

“He didn’t fit in anywhere, except with his grandfather,” Mrs. Aldersperger said. “At 19 years of age,” she continued, “he decided to join the Marines.

“Of all the [branches] why Marines?, she asked.

“If I am going to [join the military],” he responded, “I am going to be the best. I am not going to waste my life and I am not going to be one of those people that get into trouble.”

Within a week of this decision, he was gone.

After boot camp, he came to see his grandmother one last time, in September of 2004, before deploying to Iraq. She described him as being nervous, but he faced his fear like a man.

When asked why he chose to join the Marines, Christopher, shown here in his dress blues, responded, "I am going to be the best."

“Its my duty as a Marine,” he said, “I will do whatever I have to do.”

On November 4, 2004, Mrs. Adlesperger received a letter from him. Always thinking about others, he simply wanted to let his grandmother know he was okay.

“Let me say sorry because I am writing in the dark. Everything out here is going all right. It’s pretty crazy though, let me just say that. We are getting ready to make the second biggest urban assault in Marine history here in a couple of days so we keep pretty busy. I do not have time to write a lot but I just wanted to thank you and hope that you are doing well. Take care of yourself and I hope to hear from you soon. Love Christopher.”

The Battle For Fallujah

On November 10, 2004, Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger entered the hall of heroes and is considered to be responsible for destroying the last strong point in the battle for Fallujah. It occurred when Pfc. Adlesperger’s squad was clearing houses in the Jolan district of Al Fallujah. As they burst through the gate of one house, they were hit with heavy fire from a well-prepared entrenched machine gun position from within the house. His best friend, Lance Cpl. Erick Hodges, was immediately shot and killed while others were wounded.

A violent shootout ensued with both sides squaring off a mere 20 feet from each other. As the Marines fought back, terrorist inside the building began lobbing grenades. A sniper in a nearby alleyway picked off corpsmen, radio operators and anyone else attempting to lend a helping hand.

As the world crumbled around him, Christopher Adlesperger exposed himself to machine gun fire in order to help those wounded reach the safety of an outdoor stairway leading to the roof. During the process bullets tugged at his clothing while shrapnel from a fragmentation grenade ripped through his face causing intense bleeding. All of this made an impossible situation worse. Looking death in the Pfc. Adlesperger continued to exchange fire with the machine gunner, when he saw several terrorist storm the staircase. He quickly eliminated them, before arriving to the roof where the wounded were able to receive medical treatment.

As he looked down at the carnage below he was horrified to see several terrorists unnecessarily riddle the lifeless body of Eric Hodges before putting one last shot in his head. As another terrorist ran from the house to retrieve Hodges weapon, Pfc. Adlesperger stopped him dead in his tracks with a single shot.

Meanwhile the machine gunner inside the building continued to hold Marines at bay. Adlesperger laid his M-16 down long enough to blow holes in the side of the house with his grenade launcher. Four insurgents fled the barrage only to find themselves in Christopher’s crosshairs and were quickly eliminated as well.

The rest of the days event are aptly narrated in the Navy Cross citation:

 

 

The Navy Cross

Disregarding his own wounds and physical exhaustion, Private First Class Adlesperger rejoined his platoon and demanded to take point for a final assault on the same machine gun position. Once an Assault Amphibian Vehicle created a breach in the wall adjacent to the enemy’s position, Private First Class Adlesperger was the first Marine to re-enter the courtyard where he eliminated a remaining insurgent at close range. When the fighting finally ceased, a significant number of insurgents from fortified positions had been eradicated. Through his actions, Private First Class Adlesperger destroyed the last strongpoint in the Jolan District of Al Fallujah and saved the lives of his fellow Marines.[1]

“When it was over, Adlesperger’s face was covered in blood, while his uniform had bullet holes in the sleeve and collar. In spite of his condition “he refused to be evacuated until Hodges’ body was recovered.”[2]

Although Christopher Adlesperger survived that terrible battle, he would not endure a similarly intense encounter with the enemy a month later. As our Nation was deciding on whether this brave young man would receive the Medal of Honor or Navy Cross, Christopher gave the ultimate sacrifice and was gunned down during another intense firefight.

Once again he had taken the lead position when his battalion was assigned to sweep another neighborhood in Fallujah. As they entered a non descript house, Pfc. Adlesperger was hit with multiple rounds which spun him around: one bullet slipped by the protective plates in his body army, pierced his heart and killed him instantly.[3]

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Christopher Adlesperger at work in his grandfather's backyard. He was always willing to help those in need and defend the underdog.

After his death Good Morning America did a segment on Christopher Adelsperger. In it they showed clips of the Marine laughing as he handed candy to Iraqi children, out the window of his Humvee. Mrs. Adelsperger said it portrayed her grandson in a very “care free way.”

When we contemplate the life of this extraordinary young man, we are amazed at the remarkable transformation Christopher Adlesperger underwent in just three-month-period. From care giver to his grandfather, he became a United States Marine and rapidly went on to become a national hero. Yet through it all he retained the same upbeat spirit, determination and the willingness to help those in most need. While a bullet might have stopped Christopher Adlesperger’s very big heart, it did nothing to diminish America’s affection for someone who is truly a Modern American Hero.


[1]http://militarytimes.com/citations-medals-awards/recipient.php?recipientid=3651

[2] http://www.copthetruth.com/cop_the_truth/2006/10/uncommon_valor_.html

[3] Ibid

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While most Americans mourn the death of our brave warriors, Westboro Baptist Church goes so far as the "Thank God for IED's" that kill them.

Take a moment and compare the news brief below with the last article posted on this blog, about the Marine Corps Body Bearers. Westboro Baptist Church,  and its founder, Fred Phelps,  are known for protesting at the funeral of America’s servicemen. This group had the insensitivity to protest at the funeral of St. Joseph Missouri Native, Army Spc. Edward L. Myers, who was killed in Samarra, Iraq when an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) detonated near his Humvee. Imagine the pain and suffering Myer’s family were forced to endure. Not only had they lost their son (who died serving his country) they were also forced to tolerate a group of people holding signs in support of the very ones who killed him.

Marines Corps Body bearers, featured in the last post, treat the mortal remains of deceased service members with the respect and dignity they deserve and one which resonates with the majority of Americans. Westboro Baptist Church, on the other hand, is allowed to dishonor American Heroes, because of freedom of speech. Isn’t there something very wrong about this? What will our young people think if we continue to allow our heroes to be treated in such a way? Is freedom of speech so absolute that it trumps the dignity and sacredness of a last tribute to someone who died for his country? And tramples on the sorrow and pain of his grieving family and friends?

*                                *                                *

Washington (CNN) — Missouri’s tight restrictions on protests and picketing outside military funerals were tossed out by a federal judge Monday, over free speech concerns.

A small Kansas church had brought suit over its claimed right to loudly march outside the burials and memorial services of those killed in overseas conflicts. The state legislature had passed a law to keep members of the Topeka-based Westboro Baptist Church from demonstrating within 300 feet of such private services.

To read more click here.

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conversation overheard on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai

FA-18 Fighter Jet.

Iranian Air Defense Site: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’
Aircraft:
‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’
Air Defense Site:
‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’
Aircraft:
‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter.  Send ’em up, I’ll wait!’
Air Defense Site:
( …. total silence)

God bless our troops.
There is something about a Marine that makes other countries listen to reason
.

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Keep up the Fire

After Sgt. Daniel Shaw was killed in Iraq on November 5, 2007 his wake back in West Seneca Falls New York was held on Veterans Day. I happened to be town and could not think of a better way to spend Veterans day than by paying my final respects to a soldier and convey my gratitude to his family.

What most impressed me that day, besides the statue like soldiers that stood guard by the flag drapped coffin, was the conversation I had with Sgt. Raleigh Heekin. He was the officer assigned to escort the body of Sgt. Shaw back to Western NY. I was inspired by his stories of combat and his calm resolve to continue the fight.

Beside the coffin of Sgt. Shaw there was an easel, upon which was drapped his uniform. Sgt. Heekin explained the meaning of the crest on the shoulder of the uniform and the words “Keep up the fire” .

You can find out the meaning of that phrase and the rest of my impressions by clicking here: http://www.tfp.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=518&Itemid=101

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