Staff Sergeant Austin McCall says he was inspired to join the Army, like many heroic young Americans these days, because of the events of September 11. He went on to become a Ranger and on January 5, 2010 he earned the Bronze Star while leading his squad to a compound in Eastern Afghanistan. They had received intelligence that it was a “guest house” for a suicide bomber. When he arrived at this compound he was met by an enemy combatant holding two grenades. It was a make or break moment and Sergeant McCall lived up to the challenge.
He was able to shoot the terrorist, but not before the latter launched one of his grenades in the McCall’s direction. What happened next could be measured in milliseconds. The first grenade hit McCall in the chest, landed at his feet, but miraculously did not explode. Instinctively he turned his head towards the rest of the Rangers in his unit and yelled “grenade” as the second one, lying on the enemies chest, exploded.
Flying shrapnel might have killed Sergeant Mcall, had he not turned his head. Although his life was spared, one large piece of medal tore through his cheek and took out two teeth on its exit. With the commotion caused by the grenade other terrorists entered the fray.
In spite of his injuries, McCall maintained his calm and continued to heroically lead his squad. They eventually overcame the enemy and secured the compound. When the dust settled Sergeant McCall was covered in blood from his facial injuries and was forced to endure the pain, without medication, for another half hour before he could be evacuated.
There are two things which make this man worthy of admiration.
First of all, he was quick to deflect the praise he earned for his actions. “(As Rangers) that’s just what we do,” he said. “We go to where the fight is. We are there to engage and take care of the bad guys. That’s the way we are. We are all Rangers – the best gun fighters in the world.”
The second thing which makes this warrior worthy of our respect is his willingness to get back into the fight. He was quoted he in an article saying he “looks forward to doing it all over again.” This was not just tough talk either. A month after his brush with death and a most painful injury Sergeant McCall is back in the fight with a scar across the face to prove that it really is “hard to keep a good man down.”
“Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor.” Last stanza of the Army Ranger creed.