The Warrior Scholar

This is a blog about current events - a way to provide a constructive outlet for some of the thoughts I have on the issues of the day. It's also a way to generate some discussion and to get my ideas out into the world. Enjoy!

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

I'm a doctoral candidate in Virginia, with a love of history and politics. My dog is a great companion, and my family always keeps me in good spirits.

Friday, September 03, 2004

More Heroes of War

From the US Army News Services (see attached hyperlinks):

Sgt. Tommy Rieman

US Army News Service: In a fight, two against one is bad odds. Ten against one is a recipe for disaster. Yet those were the odds Sgt. Tommy Rieman and his squad faced and beat when they were ambushed by more than 50 anti-American insurgents near Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq last December.

Rieman, 24, a team leader in Company B, 3rd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, was awarded the Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his heroic actions last December day during a ceremony at Devil Brigade Field August 6. He was also awarded the Army Commendation Medal with a “V” device for valor for a separate reconnaissance mission that took place in March 2003.Rieman was in charge during the patrol that garnered him the Silver Star because he had scouted the area before and knew the terrain. His eight-man patrol was in three light-skinned Humvees with no doors when the first rocket-propelled grenade hit.“The thing I remember most was the sound of the explosion. It was so loud,” said Rieman.

They were hit by three RPGs and a barrage of small arms fire coming from 10 dug-in enemy fighting positions. Staying in the kill zone meant certain death, so the vehicles never stopped moving. Rieman knew he had to return fire. Bullets whizzed after them as the vehicles sped away from the ambush and the Soldiers found themselves caught in another ambush.There were maybe 50 enemy attackers blasting away at him with small arms fire from a grove of palm trees nearby. Injuries to his men were beginning to pile up. Out of his squad, Sgt. Bruce Robinson had lost his right leg in the RPG attack and Spc. Robert Macallister had been shot in the buttocks. Rieman himself had been shot in the right arm and chest, and had shrapnel wounds to his chest, stomach and ear. Worst of all, they were almost out of ammo. He began firing away with his M203 grenade launcher, raining round after round down on the attackers. After being battered by 15 of Rieman’s 40mm grenades, the enemy’s guns were silent.

Pfc. Christopher Fernandez

US Army News Service: Pfc. Christopher Fernandez, of Battery A, 1st Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, was awarded a Silver Star Medal for valor by the 1st Calvary Division commanding general Aug. 13.The Silver Star is the Army’s fifth highest medal for valor and the third highest during combat. The medal is rarely given to enlisted Soldiers.

Fernandez was awarded the Silver Star for his actions on the night of May 5, when his unit came under attack. Fernandez, a Tucson, Ariz. native, was on a patrol through the Baghdad’s Saidiyah neighborhood when insurgents ambushed his unit. An improvised explosive device hit the patrol’s rear vehicle. Immediately following the explosion, the patrol was barraged with small-arms fire. The IED explosion killed two U.S. soldiers, wounded five others and rendered their vehicle inoperable.In all the chaos, Fernandez saw the stricken vehicle’s M-240B machine gun was unused. Fernandez knew that another weapon would suppress the enemy’s fire long enough to evacuate the wounded and leave the area. He left his vehicle, ran to the disabled humvee, recovered the weapon and its ammunition, and then opened fire on the enemy.

What made all of that spectacular was the recovered weapon’s condition, said Capt. Thomas Pugsley, Battery A’s commander. The handguards covering the machine-gun’s barrel, so the gunner’s hands won’t burn, were blown off in the explosion. That didn’t matter to Fernandez though; he kept firing even though his hands were burning.Almost 10 minutes later, the wounded were loaded onto the Fernandez’s vehicle, and the ambush site was abandoned.

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