The Amazing story of Sergeant James “Eddie” Wright. The story below appeared on the Blackfive website.
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…On April 6, Wright was in the midst of his second tour in Iraq, this time living his childhood dream as a recon Marine. The 28-year-old was finally doing the kind of missions for which he longed. He planned to make a life in the Corps.
On April 7, all that changed.
That day, Wright and his fellow Marines with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based Bravo Company, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, now based at Camp Fallujah, were called to escort a 15-vehicle convoy of Humvees and 7-ton trucks on a 10-mile trek to a supply point, where they would hunt for enemy mortar teams.
As the company rolled toward its destination, the commander of Bravo’s 2nd Platoon, Capt. Brent Morel, sensed something was wrong. The road was bare of traffic, a clear sign of nearby danger — possibly an ambush, an IED or a mine. The Marines dismounted and swept the area, but found nothing.
Soon after, Wright and his team moved forward in the convoy’s lead Humvee and learned it wasn’t a false alarm, after all. An incredible maelstrom of fire broke out, as enemy machine-gun rounds, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars exploded around the convoy.
Bullets were whizzing through one window out the other, Wright recalled.
“It’s a miracle nobody got shot in the face or the head.”
As the corporal opened fire with his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, a machine gunner manning a weapon in the Humvee’s gun turret above took a round in the leg and groin. He passed out with his head exposed to the hail of fire. But before Wright and his fellow Marines could get the gunner down from his exposed position, an explosion rocked the vehicle.
Wright never saw it coming, but the RPG slammed into his SAW, blowing his helmet and safety glasses off and rupturing his left eardrum.
That was the least of his injuries, he realized a moment later.
“I opened my eyes and looked at my hands and I saw they were both blown off,” he said. “I remember thinking, ‘damn, both of them?’.”
The explosion also ripped Wright’s thigh wide open and broke his femur. With the thigh bone sticking out, his leg was bleeding wildly and his hands gone, Wright knew he had to get medical attention fast.
What happened after that would earn Wright the Bronze Star.
As junior Marines in the Humvee began “freaking out” about Wright’s gruesome injuries, the noncommissioned officer knew he needed to keep his cool. Wright’s team leader Sgt. Eric Kocher was also hit in the arm by a bullet, leaving the team three men down.
According to his Bronze Star citation, Wright “was the epitome of composure.”
“Understanding the severity of his own injuries, he calmly instructed others on how to remove the radio, call for support and render first aid,” the citation states. “He also pointed out enemy machine-gun emplacements to his fellow Marines assisting in the demise of 26 enemies killed in action.”
Wright instructed one of his lance corporals to put a tourniquet on his wounds.
“I had to stay calm. If I freaked out the younger Marines would freak out. The Marines without combat experience would freak out,” Wright recalled.
Kocher, unable to operate his weapon with one arm, jumped in the driver’s seat and another Marine took his place on the right to provide security as they drove out of the kill zone.
Meanwhile Wright helped direct fire at machine gun emplacements as the battered Humvee sped away.
All together, Bravo Company faced at least 40, perhaps 60, enemy insurgents, that day.
Although Wright’s Humvee made it out without fatalities, the company would lose Capt. Morel, who died after being hit in the chest by machine gun fire…
…Wright wanted to be a Marine since he first heard leathernecks calling cadence calls as a kid and he wants to stay in the Marine Corps, despite his injuries.
Wright and his therapist agree that if he works hard enough, he will be able to do almost anything required of him except pulling the trigger of a weapon.
“I think the Marine Corps will give me a fair chance. I just need to demonstrate I can do it,” he said. “If I could stay in my battalion that would be great.”
Most of all, Wright wishes he was still in Iraq helping his unit.
“I’d trade that medal for a chance to go back there.”