Navy Cross

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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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Christopher Farias

“I had to keep my promise, which was to bring my guys home,” said Sgt. Christopher Farias. “I promised my best friend’s wife that I would get him home. I could hear him screaming and I knew I had to do something.”

 

To read more CLICK HERE.

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Lance Cpl. Joseph Panetta, left, meets with his Lima Company captain, Col. John W. Ripley, during a July 2008 reunion in Florida.

by Jeremy Nobile

About 40 years passed since Lance Cpl. Joseph Panetta had seen his Lima Company captain, Col. John W. Ripley, in the jungles of Vietnam.

Considering the length of time and numerous Marines who served under him, Panetta was skeptical Ripley would even recognize him at the July 2008 reunion in Orlando, Fla. for Marines of the 3rd Regiment, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Division — an outfit better known as “Ripley’s Raiders.”

“After those 40-some years, I didn’t expect him to remember me,” Panetta recalled, “but he came right up to me and said, ‘Joe, how ya been?'”

Panetta, who was only 19 when he began his tour in Vietnam, was astonished.

“He said, ‘Joe, I remember you by your eyes,’ and I was stunned,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.

To read more CLICK HERE.

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Written by The American TFP
As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge, our thoughts naturally turn to Colonel
John Ripley, the man at the center of the story.
Spring Grove, PA(March 2012) — To most of the world April 2, 2012, will be just another early spring day. To members of the armed forces, veterans, their families, military historians, and other patriotic Americans, the date will evoke images of unfathomable courage: an exhausted Marine captain crawling through razor wire and hand-walking beneath a bridge in Vietnam, rounds from enemy fire blazing all around him, sustained through the ordeal by his sense of duty, his love of country, and his utter reliance on a Higher Power.
The 40th anniversary of the destruction of the Dong Ha Bridge — which delayed the North Vietnamese Army from taking Saigon for another three years — is a key historical milestone. Yet Norman J. Fulkerson hopes that Americans will commemorate this day by taking a moment to reflect on the example set by the man at the center of this case study in heroism. Not just during the operation itself but throughout his life, Colonel John Walter Ripley displayed a rare and priceless quality: moral courage.“While very few of us could come close to achieving the raw physical courage he possessed, we can emulate Colonel Ripley’s moral courage,” says Fulkerson, author of An American Knight: The Life of Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC (The American TFP, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-877905-41-4, $14.95).
“Our world is crying out for it. In times like these — marked by cultural decay, the unraveling of the principles that made our nation great, and widespread hopelessness and despair — we need men of moral courage more than ever.”
Fulkerson’s tribute to Colonel Ripley certainly appeals to military circles. (Indeed, the book was the Military Writers Society of America 2010 Gold Medal Winner.) Yet he hopes that its message will resonate with civilians who see much to be admired and valued in the story of a man who truly lived his values. It not only provides a gripping description of the Dong Ha Bridge operation (click here for an excerpt from the book), it paints a portrait of a man who truly personifies modern-day American knighthood.How did Ripley’s moral courage manifest itself in his life? Fulkerson offers the following insights:
Read more, click here.

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by: Norman Fulkerson

“For those who fought for it,” said an unknown soldier, “freedom has a meaning the protected will never know.”

A collection of military giants who fought for freedom convened in Washington for the 14th Annual Veterans Conference, put on by the American Veterans Center. Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen from the greatest to the latest generation were on hand to tell their stories and be honored for their service.

These men from conflicts beginning with WWII up to the current war in Afghanistan have contributed to the demise of the cruelest tyrants and the most despotic regimes of the twentieth and twenty-first Century. It is appropriate for us to take a moment this Veterans Day to reflect on their sacrifices.

SSgt. Jeremiah Workman

Wounded Warriors

Among those who spoke were wounded warriors like SSgt. Jeremiah Workman. He earned a Navy Cross during the battle for Fallujah when he entered a house to save some Marines who were pinned down by terrorists on the upper floor. Sgt. Workman charged into the house, and ran up the stairs firing on the enemy, dodging bullets as he went. When he realized that the rest of his squad was not with him, Workman was forced to retreat, but only long enough to regroup his men and make a second charge up the staircase with guns blazing. Running low on ammunition the Marines went back down the steps to reload when a terrorist lobbed a grenade in their direction. In spite of the painful shrapnel wounds to his legs and the intensity of the fight he was now engaged in Sgt. Workman was undeterred. He led a third and final assault up the stairs where he was able to secure the house. He was credited with killing 20 enemy combatants.

While he survived the hellish battle, other Marines did not. This was the most difficult thing for him to endure and led to a painful struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The Navy Cross, he says, has allowed him to bring attention to many great Marines who did not survive that day.

Steve Maguire, former President of the Ranger association and author of Jungle in Black was also on hand to tell his story. He lost his eyesight during a battle in Vietnam where he stumbled upon an area where 30 Vietcong had just been. He saw their impressions in the grass and realized he hit “pay dirt.” Because of his keen military training he also perceived a booby trap awaiting them. One of the members of his recon platoon inadvertently tripped the wire that set off an explosion which left Mr. Maguire blind. For 42 years he has not seen a speck of light but remains upbeat, even philosophical about his experiences.

“I thought I was invincible,” he told a rapt audience, but with a smile on his face he added, “I was forced to admit, that they could actually kill me.” There is a future for those wounded in battle, he told the audience. “The story of our life is not just about our life, but what we did with it.” Mr. Maguire is now a director for the Army at the Soldier Family Assistance Center in the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Col. Glenn Frazier, survivor of the Bataan Death March.

Hell’s Guest[1]

One of the most colorful personages at the Conference was Col. Glenn Frazier. He survived the infamous Bataan Death March and was quick to admit, had he known what was in store for him, he would have preferred death to the march.

He joined the Army when only sixteen and did so under amusing circumstances. He was in a bar having a Coca Cola one day when the bartender rudely told him to leave.

“You boys from Lowndes County are always beating up the boys from Montgomery County,” he said. Although he was only sixteen he took his Harley Davidson, drove it through the front doors of the saloon with such violence it ripped the doors off their hinges, sending them into the air and on top of the bar. He then did a figure eight on the dance floor, with is motorcycle, before leaving.

Frustrated with life he went straight to the Army recruiter to join the military. Since his mother had refused to sign for him he lied about his age and said he was twenty one. After giving him the list of options of where he could go, the recruiter told him that the Philippines were a paradise. He would find out, all too soon, another side of that “paradise.”

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor his unit endured a savage fight against Japanese forces in the Battle of the Points. It was predicted by the enemy that the Americans would be destroyed in 10 days, but when the dust settled, Allied forces were victorious. But the worst was yet to come when he and 15,000 other soldiers were taken prisoner and forced to endure one of the most grueling tortures in our nation’s history, The Bataan Death March. 3000 died during the march and only 4000 came home after the war.

Although he survived the March he then had to endure three years in a POW camp where he was continually told by his captors that he was merely a “guest of the Emperor.” Col. Frazier thought otherwise and wrote about his struggles in a bestselling book titled Hell’s Guest. Living on merely two bowls of rice a day, he said they were treated like animals in the most inhumane conditions.

One day he suffered a severe cut on his hand which went to the bone. It was so cold and he was so emaciated that the wound did not bleed. Some days later he was walking across the camp with his hands in his pocket, to keep warm, and quickly found out that this was against the rules. He was taken before a judge and sentenced to death, but was saved by a miracle of God. With a gun to his back and a saber to his throat, his assassin asked Col. Frazier if he had anything to say before his head was cut off. He was then given, as he recalled “a mouth and wisdom.”[2]

“You can kill me but not my spirit,” he told the stunned Japanese soldier, “and my spirit is going to lodge in your body and haunt you the rest of your life.” A frown came over the face of his would be assassin who took three steps backwards and lowered his sword. Whether it was fear of God or pagan superstition he decided it might not be a good idea to kill this American serviceman. Instead Col. Frazier was forced to endure seven days of solitary confinement and more brutal beatings.

However, his spirit lived on and continues to inspire young Americans across the country. Colonel Frazier can be seen daily at Battleship Memorial Park in Mobile, Alabama signing his books and talking to tourists.

Gen. Jimmy Doolittle aboard the USS Hornet with the Raiders.

The Doolittle Raiders

One of the highlights of the conference events was the panel that included four of the last five living members of the legendary Doolittle Raiders, named after their founder and Medal of Honor Recipient, the late Gen. Jimmy Doolittle.

These men earned a place in history books for their participation in one of the most heroic actions of World War II. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Gen. Doolittle was handed the task of conducting the first retaliatory air raid on the Japanese homeland. The eighty men asked to participate were told that it was a very dangerous mission and would entail low altitude bombings on targets that were to remain top secret. Everyone in the room volunteered.

In the weeks leading up to the raid, the pilots practiced for the mission by flying tree-top-level over the wheat fields and barns across America. In the earlier days of April 1942 they made their way to the USS Hornet where 16 B-25s awaited them. Because the planes could not fit below deck they had to be stored at the end of the runway top side. This meant that an already short 2000 foot runway was made shorter still at 500 feet, especially for those like Gen. Doolittle who took off first.

One can only imagine their surprise on that bright sunshiny day, April 18, 1942, when the Raiders were finally told that Tokyo, Japan was their intended target.

The original plan was for the planes to take off when the carrier got within 450 miles of the Japanese mainland. This was scientifically calculated by Gen. Doolittle as the distance which would allow them enough fuel to hit their targets and make it to mainland China where they would land at pre-designated air strips. An already complicated mission was made more so when the USS Hornet was spotted by a Japanese fishing boat 600 miles off the Japanese mainland. Not wanting to risk the possibility that Japan might have already been warned by that boat, Gen. Doolittle ordered to planes airborne, 150 miles ahead of what had been planned. The pilots knew they would have barely enough fuel to make it to China much less to the pre-designated air strips.

Major Ed Saylor who flew aboard Plane #15 with bowed head during a commemoration ceremony for deceased Raiders held on April 14,2011 at Calvary Cemetery in Lincoln Nebraska.

Major Edward Saylor, an engineer for plane #15 said he “Didn’t expect to survive the mission.” But the element of surprise was something he found delicious.

Major Thomas Griffin, the navigator aboard plane #9, described how he flew right over Emperor Hirohito’s palace. They were ordered not to bomb it “but the fly over was the least we could do,” he said with a smile. He made it safely to China but only because of a favorable tail wind. During his flight he described with a bit of humor how he was forced to think of a contingency plan in the case he would have to ditch it in the sea.

“I would try to land near a friendly ship,” he said, and if it were an unfriendly he added with bravado, “we would take it over with our 45’s.” One of the fellow Raiders sitting close by laughed and said, “Optimistic thinking.”

Of the sixteen original B-25s on the mission, three crash landed on the coast of China, while twelve flew until they ran out of fuel before the airmen bailed out. The last plane was forced to land in Russia.

The value of the raid can only be truly appreciated when one considers that the Japanese did not think their land would be bombed. Besides giving the enemy what one Raider referred to as a “black eye,” the Doolittle Raid changed the whole course of the war because it required the Japanese to change their mindset. They were forced to retain soldiers for the defense of the home islands which had been intended for the Solomons, but they also had to expand the Pacific perimeter of defense well beyond what they had formally thought to be adequate.[3]

Sterling Goblets presented to Gen. Jimmy Doolittle with the Bottle of Cognac to be opened by the last two Raiders Left Standing.

Goblet Ceremony

At the 1959 Raider Reunion in Tucson, Arizona, the Chamber of Commerce presented a set of eighty sterling goblets to General Doolittle with the name of each Raider engraved on the side. The Raiders who had already died had their names engraved upside down. At every reunion since then the raiders keep up the tradition started on that day. They turn the goblets of those who have died over and then toast their heroism.

The eighty goblets are preserved in an elegant glass trophy case[4] along with a bottle of 1896 Cognac donated by Hennessy to honor the year of Gen. Doolittle’s birth. The tradition of the yearly toast will end with the last two remaining Raiders still standing. Only then will the bottle of Cognac be opened and a final toast offered by the last two men of this historic group.[5]

Gen. Stephen Ritchie, the only "Ace" Pilot of the Vietnam who shot down 5 Russian Mig-21s.

Only “Ace” [6] Pilot in the Vietnam War

Another piece of living history and a highlight of the conference as well, was the presence of Gen. Steve Ritchie, one of the most highly decorated pilots of the Vietnam War. After distinguishing himself on his first tour of duty in Vietnam, Gen Ritchie volunteered for a second tour in 1972 and earned a place in aviation record books that will likely never be equaled.

On May 10 of that year he shot down a Russian MIG 21 and then another on May 31. Weeks later he engaged and destroyed two more MIGs in a classic low altitude dog fight which lasted just 89 seconds. On August 28 he shot down a fifth MIG during his 339th combat mission making him the Air Forces only “Ace” pilot since the Korean War and the only American pilot in history to down five of the most sophisticated air craft in the North Vietnamese fleet.

His list of accolades is simply astounding. Besides receiving the Air Forces highest award –the Air Force Cross– he went on to earn four Silver Stars, ten Distinguished Flying Crosses and 25 Air Medals. Before his career ended in 1974 he had logged more than 800 flying hours.[7]

During his talk he illustrated all to well that he knows the enemy at home as well as the enemy he fought abroad.

“Never have we, in America, faced such a dangerous threat,” he said, “which is determined as never before to either convert us or eliminate us and we are not even allowed to say the name of our enemies.”

“They can saw off our heads and put it on television all over the world,” he said, quoting the conservative radio commentator Paul Harvey, “yet we have to tiptoe around their sensitivities.”

“Whether we like it or not,” he finished, “we are in combat and it is a war of good vs evil, right vs wrong, freedom vs slavery, civilization vs chaos.”

Mariana Ritchie describing the hope she derived from a picture of the American Flag at the 14th Annual Veterans Conference, Washington DC. (Photo Courtesy of Chris Graham.)

The Little American Flag: Hope of a Romanian Girl

After thrilling the audience with his adventurous war stories and inspiring them with his perspectives, he turned the microphone over to his Romanian born wife Mariana. She briefly described what it was like, as a little girl, living under Communism in her homeland. As a five-year-old she remembered having to wait hours in line for such basic things as bread or even water. The word God was not allowed and although her grandfather was a priest, she was threatened for going to church.

The number one enemy of the Communist, she told the audience, was America. It is for this reason that she had hopes of one day being rescued by someone from the United States. One day she saw a picture of an American flag inside a magazine that had been smuggled into the country. She cut that picture out and drew enormous comfort just looking at it.

“I used to take it out and stare at it for a long time,” she said, “sometimes for hours. I was dreaming about America and what it must be like to be free.”

One day she decided to take her flag to school, where children were subjected to Communist indoctrination, and got caught. Although the teacher was furious and threatened to punish Mariana for having the flag, they could not find where she hid it.

“I could afford to lose my life,” she continued, “I could care less. But one thing I could not do is go on living without hope and that little American flag was all I had that kept me going.”

Her dream was that American pilots would go to Romania and blow it up, level it.

“Whatever they needed to do in order to free us: even if I were to die in the process, so be it. It was a price we [Romanians] would have gladly paid in exchange for freedom. We would have given the Americans anything; the oil in southern Romania; the Gold in the mountains; our life and soul in exchange for freedom.”

She finished her words by thanking America for everything, including a “second chance at life,” but also for “giving me a home and teaching me new words like happiness, honor and kindness.”

Whereas most little girls dream of a knight in shining armor, riding a white horse this Romanian girl’s ideal was clearly a twentieth century version. “I dreamed of an American fighter pilot who would rescue me with his fighter jet,” she said, “and take me to America.”

Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira, founder of the Brazilian Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP)

Those Who Fight for Freedom

This burning desire for freedom of a little Romanian girl, left unheeded for years, reminded me of a favorite phrase from a stirring manifesto written by the “Twentieth Century Crusader,”[8] Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira titled, Communism and Anticommunism on the Threshold of the Millenium’s Last Decade.[9] It was a scathing denunciation against those in the west who remained silent about the millions of souls languishing behind the former Iron Curtain.

In it, Prof. de Oliveira described the discontent of those people in countries like Romania and what they would say when it came their time to time to speak. He imagined them questioning Western Historians who “wrote optimistically and superficially about what was happening in the Communist world,” yet chose to say so little about the immense misery. Or the wealthy public figures of the West who did so little to free them from the “dark and endless night of Soviet Slavery.”

“We needed a Crusade to free us,” Prof. de Oliveira imagined the discontent saying, “and you merely sent us some bread to help us endure indefinitely our captivity. Perchance were you ignorant that the best solution for captivity is not merely bread, but freedom?”

That is the reason why, on this Veterans Day, we should remember all those American servicemen who, like modern day crusaders, fought and continue to fight for the defenseless. They do not remain with crossed arms in the face of so much infamy but put their lives on the line, time and time again, for those who are often abandoned by the rest of the world.

This no doubt is what led Mariana Ritchie to finish her discourse with something that seldom makes it into print, but needs to be plastered on the walls of every newspaper office in the country.

“You are not hated, like some people like to say. You are loved by millions of people who are hoping that someday you will go and rescue them next.”

 

 


[1] http://hellsguest.com/

[2] From the gospel of St. Matthew.

[4] Today the goblets can be seen at the National Air Force Museum in Dayton Ohio located at Wright-Patterson Air Force base.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ace designates a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy planes

[8] Title of the first biography about Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira written by Prof. Roberto de Mattei

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Matthew G. Axelson was born on June 25th 1976 in Cupertino, CA. He graduated from CSU Chico and went on to join the US Navy to become a member of their elite special warfare team, the Navy SEALs.

Many Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives hide among the treacherous peaks of Afghanistan, making searches and missions difficult and dangerous. However, for Navy Seals called in to search the hostile areas, it’s just another day’s work.

Petty Officer Axelson, along with Petty Officer Dietz, were part of a four-man reconnaissance team sent on one such mission, tasked with finding a key Taliban leader east of Asadabad, Afghanistan. As the team made their way through the mountainous region, Taliban sympathizers spotted the Seals, and alerted terrorist fighters of the team’s presence.

A deadly firefight ensued between the four Seals and an enemy force of at least 30 fighters. Positioning themselves as best they could, the team realized they needed help. They radioed for reinforcements – and soon, a MH-47 Chinook helicopter was on its way to help in the fight.

However, the Taliban fighters spotted the Chinook as it made its way toward the Seals’ position, and they launched a RPG toward the aircraft, shooting it down and killing all 16 men aboard.

The Seals knew their chances were slim, but they continued to hold their ground. Both Axelson and Dietz were severely injured, but they continued to fight, taking several of the enemy with them to their graves.

Although Axelson and Dietz died from their wounds, their actions allowed one of the Seals to evade the enemy and escape. A few days later, the surviving Seal was recovered by U.S. forces.

Both Axelson and Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross on Sept. 13, 2006.

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Ideals To Aspire To

Reviewed by: R.Adm. William A. Heine, USNR (ret) and Colonel Michael D. Wyly USMC (Ret.) Both men were classmates of Colonel John Ripley, Class of 1962, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis.

A lone U.S. Marine hand-walked, gripping the girders underneath the bridge over the Cua Viet River in the midst of a fire fight, on Easter Sunday, 1972. South of the bridge, a beleaguered battalion of fewer than 700 South Vietnamese Marines was the last ditch defense of the town of Dong Ha. North of the bridge, a column of 200 Soviet-built tanks and 30,000 North Vietnamese soldiers moved south. The bridge was their destination and their means of rapidly reinforcing the communist forces already in the Republic of Vietnam. As advisor to the South Vietnamese battalion, Captain John W. Ripley, received the order to destroy the bridge. He did so, singlehandedly. It would take him three hours hand-walking out with the explosives and back again for more. At one point he passed out from fatigue on a girder, only to be awakened when a round from the main gun of an enemy tank slammed into the bridge and jolted him awake. ” ‘The idea that I would be able to even finish the job before the enemy got me was ludicrous,” ‘Captain Ripley is quoted. ‘When you know you’re not going to make it, a wonderful thing happens: You stop being cluttered by the feeling that you’re going to survive.’”

The captain would retire from the Corps as a full colonel in 1992. The writers of this review have known him since we were all 18-year-old plebes reporting to the U.S. Naval Academy in the Class of 1962. “Rip” as we called him died of an apparent heart attack in October 2008 and we each had conversation with him within a week of his death, knew him in the course of our own military careers, knew he was the hero who singlehandedly destroyed the bridge, but did not know how much a hero, had never heard Rip’s words quoted above, until we read Norman Fulkerson’s An American Knight. If you understand the title, you do not need to read the book. But read it anyway. It is an uplifting story.

John W. Ripley with his wife Moline, after receiving the Navy Cross during the evening Parade at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington D.C.

From Fulkerson we also learn that when asked to sign a contract for a possible movie about his actions, Rip imposed two conditions. Whoever portrayed him would not use profanity and would not be unfaithful to his wife. When it came to being an officer of Marines, Rip epitomized what this means in a way Hollywood might never understand. Simply put, Rip was a gentleman. Hollywood images of tough guys swearing and womanizing may attract throngs of ticket-buyers seeking an evening’s entertainment, but they fail to capture what service to one’s country and courage under fire really are. John captured them both, true to life.

Fulkerson’s writing style is without pretense. One editor described the book as “an easy read.” It follows the chronology of Colonel Ripley’s life in sequence. No flashbacks or fast forwards. We meet his parents and the small town Radford, Virginia, where he grew up. We meet his bride to be and learn of his courtship and marriage. But without the author having to tell us, we sense where the story is taking us, that when Rip is called upon, he will do his duty, no matter the odds.

And so it was with we who knew him. When we were all teenage midshipman Rip’s future had an inevitability about it. That he would be a Marine officer was a certainty. On this, he was thoroughly focused. Likewise, that he would stay in uniform for a full 30 years. That his specialty would be infantry. Our images of military life were formed in World War II. “Marine” meant hitting the beach in a landing craft with a drop-ramp bow and charging on foot against the enemy. That we would one day go to war to fight for our freedom seemed equally certain. Rip wanted to do that because he believed in what the country stood for. Add all this together and you knew Rip would be called upon to do his duty, to exercise immense courage under fire, and that he would rise to the occasion, never flinching. And with that ever-present broad smile on his face.

1967 Vietnam photo of then Captain John Ripley studying a map with his trademark smile.

Rip had two tours of duty in Vietnam, the first as an infantry company commander. Here we read of his forbidding his Marines to shoot a pig because “it belongs to a farmer who needs to sustain a family.” And the same humanitarian thread continues as the bridge at Dong Ha finally blows into “massive chunks of concrete and steel spiraling through the air” while Rip holds in his arms a Vietnamese child whom he rescued from the impact area just in time.

Rip’s story does not end when the bridge blows up. As a colonel he is assigned back to his Alma Mater at Annapolis. There, he sets an example to the young midshipmen in his charge, guides and mentors them, earning respect and love above and beyond anything we remember witnessing or hearing about in our own careers. His calm manner, his inner toughness, and his ready smile –all life-long traits– made it a morale boost just to be in the same room with him.

Norman Fulkerson first met Colonel Ripley in 1993 when the Colonel delivered a speech for the launching of the book Nobility and Analagous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII at The Mayflower Hotel, Washington, D.C. In the ensuing years he kept in touch, personally, and read articles and books recounting the Colonel’s actions at Dong Ha, Vietnam, in 1972. He met Marines who had served with Colonel Ripley. The more the author learned of “Colonel Ripley the man,” the more he found himself thinking what a model citizen and model officer the colonel was. Finally, in 2007, a year before Colonel Ripley died unexpectedly, Mr. Fulkerson began to conceptualize a book about the Colonel’s life. The material in An American Knight is drawn from a combination of conversations with Colonel Ripley; meetings and interviews with Marines and family members: several books and articles that have documented the Colonel’s courage in Vietnam, and the content of Colonel Ripley’s speeches that the author had attended over the years.

An American Knight is more than sound military history. It is the story of a life led without pretense or affectation, an example of doing one’s duty selflessly, and, in this way is a story the youth of our country are starved for. Adults should read it for inspiration of how to rear their children and our children should read it to learn that great things can be done by people who come from the simplest beginnings, that bravado is not a requirement, that honor is sacred, and that modesty and courtesy are the keys to respectability. We should hope our grandchildren will put the book down and reflect, “Maybe I could do that” and know, when they too are called upon to act in some unforeseeable situation, “there was one who went before me and rose to the occasion. I can too.”

R. Adm. William A. Heine, USNR (ret.) is an Annapolis classmate of John Ripley who served 38 years in the Navy. The bridge that John Ripley destroyed at Dong Ha was built in 1969 by a Seabee Battalion NMCB-62. Admiral Heine served as an Operations Officer of the Battalion just prior to its construction and was familiar with various aspects of the project.

Colonel Michael D. Wyly, USMC (ret.) served two tours and distinguished himself as an outstanding Marine infantry officer in Vietnam. His early life and military career is chronicled in Robert Coram's book "Boyd".

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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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mega millions

Glenn Hockton wearing the rosary which helped save his life in Afghanistan

but I could not pass this story up, since it is along the same lines as the last post about the Catholic Marine.There are those who might consider such religious practices as something incompatible with heroism and the military life. However, true men, see the value of prayer, even AND MOST ESPECIALLY FOR WARRIORS.

Colonel John W. Ripley, to whom this blog is dedicated, screamed “Jesus, Mary, get me there,” when he saw his strength fading under the Dong Ha bridge. He did so because he saw the value of calling upon God (for Whom it is child’s play to create universes) in his hour of need. Colonel Ripley received the Navy Cross for his heroic efforts but readily admitted it would not have been possible without Divine Assistance and was not ashamed to say so in public.

This story is about a British Soldier named Glenn Hockton, who likewise attributes his survival, after two near death experiences in war, to the fact that he carries the rosary. On one occasion he was shot in the chest and his parents still have the bullet which lodged in his body armor. More recently his mother described how he felt like he had been slapped on the back. When his rosary fell to the ground, he reached down to pick it up, only to realize he was standing on a land mine. The ironic thing about this story is that Glenn’s grandfather, who fought in WWII, also attributed the rosary to saving his life, when he miraculously survived an explosion that killed six members of his platoon.  If you have not done so already, read the rest of this story by clicking here.

Similar stories have been documented in the articles No Greater Love and The Ideal Soldier.

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