Thursday, December 31, 2009

Band of 10 fends off onslaught

(by David Briscoe, Copyright 2009 Stephens Media)
(The Daily Herald- 11-9-09/ Vol.111, no.32)

Soldier directs air strikes

The Taliban assault force rolled out of a mountain pass on Nov. 16, 2001, about 1,000 fighters headed toward a strategic town in south-central Afghanistan that had booted out local Taliban leaders. From a ridge outside Tarin Kowt, capital of Oruzgan province, a 10 man U.S. Special Forces team, accompanied by a few dozen guerrillas and commanded by Capt. Jason Amerine, directed Navy F-18 air strikes against the approaching enemy convoy.
The day would be a roller coaster ride, one that would test Amerine's skills and emotions. Suddenly, with American bombs blasting the enemy as it advanced, the guerrillas decided they'd had enough. They packed into their pickup trucks, threatening to leave the Americans stranded atop the ridge. "All of us were yelling, trying to get them to stop, but we couldn't," Amerine recalled. With no choice but to jump aboard the pickups, "It was just an awful ride for 35 minutes as we retreated all the way back into town."
Two months after 9/11, in the early days of the war on terror, Amerine's tiny band of Green Berets had been dropped into Afghanistan to organize and train friendly locals. A guerrilla leader, Hamid Karzai, was trying to mobilize local fighters to oust Taliban radicals from the entire region around Tarin Kowt.
When they got back to town, Amerine told Karzai that the Americans needed to get back to the battle or the town would fall. "So, we basically forced all the drivers out of their trucks, took the trucks, and we drove back out of town," Amerine said.
The Special Forces team returned to the ridge and called in more air strikes, confident they could still stop the Taliban advance. But when the F-18s had to go back to reload, it was just Amerine and his nine men in pickup trucks against hundreds of Taliban, who couldn't be stopped. "At one point, some of the lead elements of the enemy convoy got to the edge of town, and we heard small arms fire," Amerine said. "That to me was it. The enemy made it to town. We're going to have to start thinking about going and getting Karzai and getting out of there."
Then they realized the arms fire was coming not from the Taliban but from the Tarin Kowt residents. "The people were engaging the (Taliban) convoy," Amerine said. "We still had hundreds of enemy coming for us, but the town was there fighting with us."
The day ended with an early victory in the war in Afghanistan. For Amerine, the battle led to a Bronze Star with Valor, making him one of the first decorated heroes of the war. For Karzai, it led to the Afghan presidency. The battle of Tarin Kowt established his credibility at home and abroad and turned the tide against the Taliban across the Pashtun tribal belt where the movement was born.
Just six weeks after Tarin Kowt, the Taliban surrendered Kandahar, Afghanistan's second-largest city. But Amerine and his team, with two men added, missed the surrender, falling victim just hours before to the deadliest friendly fire incident of the war.
Two men from Amerine's A-Team, one other American and more than 30 Afghan guerrillas died when a soldier who had joined the operation with a head quarters group mistakenly called down a 2,000-pound bomb onto his own coordinates.
Amerine views the incident just north of Kandahar as part of the danger of war and calls the men killed in his unit- Master Sgt. Jefferson Davis of Clarksville, Tenn., and Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Petithory of Cheshire, Mass.- the real heroes of the campaign.

In all, Amerine's unit received 11 Purple Hearts, eight Bronze Stars and two posthumous Silver Stars. Now 38, Amerine is the very image of a decorated soldier.
Thank you for reading;
Richard, MFDC

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Soldier Save Squad leader (Staff Sgt. John Marra)

(by Ellen Woods copywrite 2009 Stephens Media):

Blasted by a roadside bomb, the last truck in the convoy flew into the air and landed on its side. The gunner ran out of the dust cloud shrouding the M1117 armored security vehicle while the driver crawled out through a hole.
Two trucks ahead, Staff Sgt. John Marra Jr. grabbed his rifle and medical bag and jumped down from the turret as enemy small-arms fire peppered the wreckage. His unit, the 303rd Military Police Company, had lost its medic, killed in an ambush three weeks earlier. On Oct. 24 2007, with the unit nearing the end of a 13-month Iraq deployment, this would be Marra's first time going it alone in her place.
"I ran, apparently under a lot of gunfire," Marra said. " I could hear it at the time, but I didn't know it was skipping off the ground all around me." When he reached the overturned truck, he found one soldier dead and another trapped. Further exposing himself to enemy fire, Marra jumped onto the passenger-side door, now the top of the truck.
Still alive inside, but in bad shape, was Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Blaxton, the squad leader.
"The armored doors are 500-plus pounds," Marra said. "Another one of our soldiers, Staff Sgt. Christopher Riley, jumped up to help me, and we held the door open while we lifted (Blaxton) vertically out the door. He weighs 200 pounds with 60 or 70 pounds of body armor and his back was broken, so we were lifting dead weight. I did a brief check for pulse and breath, and there were no signs of life.
Marra inserted a nasopharyngeal airway tube into Blaxton's nasal passage to clear an opening. He immediately heard encouraging gurgling sounds of Blaxton attempting to breathe. Marra and Riley loaded their critically injured squad leader into the back of the open-bed, non-armored Iraqi police truck and raced to the district police station for further medical help.
We were trying to outrun the insurgents, "Marra said. "We were bouncing around every which way, winding in and out of alleys. I was in the back of the truck straddled on top of Blaxton, trying to cover his body while performing CPR and trying to insert an IV line."
At the same time, Marra wondered about the Iraqis in the front of the truck. He had trained them, but were they trustworthy? It wouldn't be the first time, he thought, if the drivers simply turned over their passengers to the enemy.
This time, the Marra-trained policemen delivered their cargo to safety. Blaxton survived and has since medically retired from the military. He has become a wheelchair athlete. Marra dismisses his act of heroism: "Anyone in my unit would have done the same thing. We're trained to react the way we did that day. Your body takes over. The training is rigorous, and I don't think I would have been able to do what I did that day without it." He also drew inspiration from the memory of Cpl. Rachel Hugo, the medic who had been killed. She died in Bayji, in a similar attack in almost the same location.
As Marra worked to save Blaxton, he recalled a "slow motion second" in which he " looked over at the alley where we lost her. She's the one who taught me to put in an airway. She was with all of us that day."
This information was taken from "The Daily Herald" Columbia, Tn. Vol.111. no.55 12/07/09
Richard, MFDC


Hello Everyone:

My name is Richard Blodgett and this is my new Blog! I wanted to start posting all the information that I am receiving about our Soldiers!
There is alot of information that I get from my local newspaper and from different emails and social sites that I visit. I wanted to group it all together and I will list credits to the individuals or places where the information is gathered from. I will list or place up photos when available. I will also have links to there sites and to my own website.
If you know of any stories of battles from Afghanistan or Iraq, email me and I will place it here for you. I am trying to get there stories out to as many people as possible.
Thank you for reading and pass my blog address along:

Richard, MFDC