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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Last Six Seconds






On Nov 13, 2010, Lt General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech to the Semper
Fi Society of St. Louis , MO. This was four days after his son, Lt Robert
Kelly USMC, was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat tour.

During his speech, General Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of our
Young men and women who step forward each and every day to protect us.

He never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed the speech with the
Moving account of the last six seconds in the lives of two young Marines who
Died with rifles blazing to protect their brother Marines.

"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.
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 whom 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.

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.

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'd 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."

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.

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 ( I deleted) 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 ever 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.

2 comments:

  1. "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 ever steal it away".

    Sadly that gift HAS been stolen away, by the very career officers and politicians who sign the Marine's paycheck.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes Sandman that is in the works but its not gone yet. So many are convinced the military is going to turn their guns on us anyday but if you ask most servicemen what they will do if they get that order today they will reply, "Then its time to shoot my Colonel."
    Check this out though,

    Dr. Jim Garrow, the author of The Pink Pagoda: One Man’s Quest to End Gendercide in China, made the following claim on Facebook this week that is getting a whole lot of attention.

    On Monday, renowned author and humanitarian Dr. Jim Garrow made a shocking claim about what we can expect to see in Obama’s second term.

    Garrow made the following Facebook post:

    I have just been informed by a former senior military leader that Obama is using a new “litmus test” in determining who will stay and who must go in his military leaders. Get ready to explode folks. “The new litmus test of leadership in the military is if they will fire on US citizens or not.” Those who will not are being removed.

    So, who is the source?

    Garrow replied: “The man who told me this is one of America’s foremost military heroes.”

    ReplyDelete