You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Marines’ tag.

Marine Corps Body Bearers carry the coffin of Colonel John W. Ripley to his final resting place in the Naval Academy Cemetery.

My first exposure to Marine Corps Body Bearers was at the funeral of Colonel John Ripley. Below is a very interesting article about the men who have the honor to carry fallen heroes to their final resting place. The next time I saw them was at the funeral of Colonel Ripley’s wife Moline. NJF

by: Cpl. Scott Schmidt | Tuesday, June 29, 2010 10:56

WASHINGTON – It’s an iconic scene: Six men stand together halfway around the world from home and raise a flag on top of Mount Suribachi. When the men returned home, their story of valor on Iwo Jima lifted a nation to its feet in the midst of the turning point of World War II.

Now, more than 60 years later, another six Marines stand tall in the shadow of the Marine Corps War Memorial’s valor as it depicts that iconic scene.

They belong to the group of 13 Marines who carry the caskets of fellow Marines through the streets of Arlington National Cemetery and surrounding National Capital region cemeteries, (sometimes up to a mile,) as the last salute to the fallen members of the 234-year-old brotherhood.

To read more Click Here.

Advertisements

conversation overheard on the VHF Guard (emergency) frequency 121.5 MHz while flying from Europe to Dubai

FA-18 Fighter Jet.

Iranian Air Defense Site: ‘Unknown aircraft you are in Iranian airspace. Identify yourself.’
Aircraft:
‘This is a United States aircraft. I am in Iraqi airspace.’
Air Defense Site:
‘You are in Iranian airspace. If you do not depart our airspace we will launch interceptor aircraft!’
Aircraft:
‘This is a United States Marine Corps FA-18 fighter.  Send ’em up, I’ll wait!’
Air Defense Site:
( …. total silence)

God bless our troops.
There is something about a Marine that makes other countries listen to reason
.

Cpl. Matt Garst absorbed the direct blast of an improvised explosive device and lived to tell about it. He continued his mission virtually unfazed.

by: Sgt. Mark Fayloga

SOUTHERN SHORSURAK, Afghanistan (July 12, 2010) — Cpl. Matt Garst should be dead.

Few people survive stepping on an improvised explosive device. Even fewer walk away the same day after directly absorbing the force of the blast, but Garst did just that.

A squad leader with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Garst was leading his squad on a patrol in Southern Shorsurak, Afghanistan, June 23 to establish a vehicle checkpoint in support of Operation New Dawn.

The men were four miles from Lima Company’s newly established observation post when they approached an abandoned compound close to where they needed to set up their checkpoint. It would serve well as an operating base — a place for the squad to set up communications and rotate Marines in and out of. But first, it had to be secured.

As they swept the area with a metal detector, the IED registered no warning on the device. The bomb was buried too deep and its metallic signature too weak. Two men walked over it without it detonating.”

At six feet, two inches tall and 260 pounds with all his gear on, Garst is easily the largest man in his squad by 30 or 40 pounds — just enough extra weight to trigger the IED buried deep in hard-packed soil.

Lance Cpl. Edgar Jones, a combat engineer with the squad, found a pressure plate inside the compound and hollered to Garst, asking what he should do with it. Garst turned around to answer the Marine and stepped on the bomb.

“I can just barely remember the boom,” Garst said. “I remember the start of a loud noise and then I blacked out…” When he came to, he was standing on his feet holding his weapon, turning to see the remnants of the blast and wondering why his squad had a look on their faces as if they’d seen a ghost.

This Cougar was hit in Al Anbar, Iraq by a directed charge IED approximately 300-500 lbs in size. All crew members survived the blast and went out the next day.

Marines in Lima Company think Garst is the luckiest guy in the battalion, and while that may seem a fair assessment, it was the enemy’s shoddy work that left Garst standing. The three-liters of homemade explosive only partially detonated.

Marines who witnessed the event from inside the compound caught glimpses of Garst’s feet flailing through the air just above the other side of the building’s eight-foot walls. The explosion knocked him at least fifteen feet away where he landed on his limp head and shoulders before immediately standing back up.”

Not quite sure of what had just happened, Garst turned back toward the blast, now nothing but a column of dirt and smoke rising toward the sun.

“My first thought was, ‘ I just hit an IED,’” he said. “Then I thought, ‘Well I’m standing. That’s good.’”

Read more by clicking here.

This first biography on Col. John W. Ripley contains the full House Armed Services Committee testimony he gave against allowing homosexuals in the military.

Not in the Pentagon Closet

by: Brett Decker

Listening to the liberal media, it’s easy to think that all America’s generals and admirals want to torpedo the ban on open homosexuals serving in the military. At times, there is a revolving door on the Pentagon’s closet, with some of the brass putting fingers in the air to test which way the winds are blowing.

While politicized officers might try to curry favor with the Obama administration and congressional Democrats by assuming the liberal position in favor of ending the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, 1,164 flag and general officers have signed a petition informing President Obama that, “Our past experience as military leaders leads us to be greatly concerned about the impact of repeal [of the law] on morale, discipline, unit cohesion and overall military readiness.”

The extraordinary open letter by so many respected military leaders, which has been shepherded by the Center for Military Readiness, isn’t surprising to most Americans, who know those serving in uniform are among the most forthright in America, a few media darlings aside. However, in our morally confused age, officers who defend traditional values tend to be the ones kept in the Pentagon closet rather than those with less normal views. Despite this political pressure, most warriors espouse a very conservative ideology. One of them speaks to us from the grave.

The late Col. John W. Ripley is a Marine Corps legend for his many heroic stands in combat, in congressional hearings and in life. In “An American Knight,” first-time author Norman J. Fulkerson does a masterful job recounting not only what this great man did, but why he did it and how he became who he was. In short, with a few exceptions aside, great men aren’t born – they are formed. John Ripley benefited from the example of a strict family upbringing and the influence of an ascendant American culture that was unabashed in its encouragement of the eternal verities of God, family and country. In the Ripley household, religion wasn’t only for women and wimps, and the whole family knelt to pray the Rosary together every day.

Painting by Col. Charles Waterhouse of John Ripley dangling above Cua Viet River as Angry North Vietnamese soldiers fire upon him.

It was this faith that would fortify the tough Marine during his toughest trials. His most celebrated feat was on Easter Sunday 1972 in Vietnam, where he singlehandedly blew up the Dong Ha bridge to halt a communist advance along the main transportation artery into South Vietnam. For more than three hours, he climbed the superstructure of the bridge, swinging from steel girders like monkey bars to place explosives and detonators under the main supports. He scaled the bridge over a dozen times, taking heavy fire the whole time, to accomplish the mission and thwart the enemy.

In the years after combat duty, Col. Ripley served in many roles, including stints working for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as an instructor at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and even as president of the Southern Seminary, an all-woman’s college. As the years passed, the Marine’s Marine feared that America was endangered by another leftist threat: political correctness. During the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century, he again answered the call, publicly arguing against admission of girls into the Virginia Military Institute and against women in combat. It was his belief that these positions were in defense of ladies and femininity, especially by trying to protect them from abuse. “If we see women as equals on the battlefield, you can be absolutely certain that the enemy does not see them as equals,” Col. Ripley said. “The minute a woman is captured, she is no longer a POW, she is a victim and an easy prey … someone upon whom they can satisfy themselves and their desires.”

1993 photo of Col. John Ripley. The same year of his heroic testimony against allowing homosexuals in the Military.

Mr. Fulkerson explains that, “While Americans appreciate the warrior spirit of someone like him, we admire much more a person who is not afraid to tell the truth.” That’s why “An American Knight” is not only an interesting book for military buffs but offers inspiring reading for anyone looking for noble examples amidst modern amorality. On the night of Oct. 28, 2008, this Marine met his maker. But while Col. Ripley is dead, his legend lives on. If you listen closely to the din of contemporary political-military debates, the voice of Ripley echoes.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/21/not-in-the-pentagon-closet/

Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph

A Review of Richard Botkin’s Recent Book: Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam Story of Honor and Triumph

By Michael Whitcraft
One of the most cited and least understood wars in American history is Vietnam.  Due to these misunderstandings, it has become synonymous with the words quagmire and disaster.

Thus, opponents of current military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan decry our operations there saying that America is getting itself into “another Vietnam.”  However, were US military activities in Southeast Asia really so bad after all?

The answer is yes and no: Yes, they were certainly a worldwide embarrassment as our troops left the field of battle without victory.  However, judged by the performance of America’s military, the answer must be a resounding no.  Sadly, politicians, not warriors, decided the outcome.

Thus, the true story of the American soldiers’ valor must be told.  Such was the task of Richard Botkin in his recent 650-page tome, Ride the Thunder: A Vietnam War Story of Honor and Triumph.  In it, he successfully fulfills this task by doing exactly what his title suggests: telling the story of the Vietnam War in terms of honor and triumph.

The book primarily focuses on three Marine heroes: Colonel John W. Ripley, USMC, Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Turley, USMC and Vietnamese Lieutenant Colonel Le Ba Binh. In telling their stories, Mr. Botkin seamlessly intertwines a retelling of the history of the entire Vietnam War.  His work is painstakingly researched, yet highly readable.

Certain points stand out among the many details of the book.  First, the immense suffering that the Vietnamese people suffered at the hands of the Communists.  Mr. Botkin vividly demonstrates this with incidents of the North Vietnamese Army’s (NVA) intentional targeting of innocent civilians.

After the end of the war, more challenges awaited the devastated South, including persecution from their Northern captors. This included the creation of “reeducation” camps throughout the country.  Despite their inconspicuous label, these camps had nothing to do with regaining lost knowledge.  As Mr. Botkin points out, the installation of these camps “was nothing more than organized revenge on a massive scale.” (p. 548)

Ride the Thunder includes the story of how Lieutenant Colonel Le Ba Binh was forced to spend more than eight years in one such camp, during which time he was allowed less than two hours total visit time with his family.

Another important point Mr. Botkin highlights is the military success the American and South Vietnamese armies enjoyed throughout the war.  He convincingly dispels many media-created myths that Vietnam was a lost cause.

The fact is that American forces did not lose a single battle of any consequence in the entire war, in spite of their self-defeating policy that allowed the enemy free communications along the Ho Chi Minh trail and safe havens in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam.  Even the oft-touted Tet Offensive of 1968 was a very real defeat for the NVA.

Despite the operation’s enormous scope, South Vietnamese and American forces had already regrouped and began a counterattack within hours of its first salvos.  They were so successful that other than continued fighting in Hue and Khe Sahn, the entire offensive was defeated within two weeks.  In Hue, expelling the Communists took twenty-seven days, while the enemy eventual abandoned Khe Sahn as well.

Therefore, the North Vietnamese did not gain any ground and loss an estimated 45-50 thousand troops KIA during the offensive.  Many more thousands were captured.  (American deaths during the entire war are estimated at around 58 thousand.)

All-in-all, military leadership classified the operation as a tremendous victory.  The only Communist victory of the campaign had been fought for America’s soul.  As Mr. Botkin described it: “the Communist offensive did achieve a public relations coup with the American public well beyond what a militarily defeated [NVA] could have possibly dreamed.” (p. 146)

However, a Communist operation in March of 1972 dwarfed Tet in size, aggressiveness and overall danger to South Vietnam.  Dubbed the Easter Offensive, it began with a simultaneous attack on twelve bases that spanned the entire length of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).  From its very beginning, all known friendly artillery positions came under attack.

With American troops already largely withdrawn, the objective seemed obvious and frighteningly obtainable: break through the South’s weak defensive lines and drive southward to Saigon, thus winning the war and subjecting all of Vietnam to Communist domination.

Fortunately for the South, the Communist troops met unbelievable resistance that was greatly aided by the actions of three tough Marine officers who refused to give up.

The first was Vietnamese Lieutenant Colonel Binh, whose battalion (known as Soi Bien or “Wolves of the Sea”) held the ground defending a bridge across the Cua Viet River at the city of Dong Ha.  The bridge was highly strategic because it was the only crossing in the area sturdy enough to support the more than 200 tanks the NVA had assembled on the north side of the river.

Lieutenant Colonel Binh persistently held his ground in spite of overwhelming odds.  It was his training and leadership that kept the situation together in Dong Ha as his men faced the fight of their lives.

The Lieutenant Colonel’s determination is well demonstrated in a radio message he sent out to his commanders when rumors began to circulate that Dong Ha had fallen.  He said:

It is rumored that Dong Ha has fallen…My orders are to hold the enemy in Dong Ha.  We will fight in Dong Ha.  We will die in Dong Ha.  We will not leave.  As long as one Marine draws a breath of life, Dong Ha will belong to us. (pp. 327-328)

While the desperation of the situation led scores of South Vietnamese troops throughout the DMZ to desert, not a man of the Soi Bien left his post.

Colonel Le Ba Binh, left, at the funeral of Col. John Ripley with Gy. Sgt. Jason Carrawell.

Their efforts supported American Colonel John W. Ripley, then serving with Colonel Binh as an advisor.  He would need all the help he could get as he took on a mission to destroy the Dong Ha Bridge, in an endeavor so daring that it has become part of Marine Corps legend.

The bridge’s superstructure was a hulking construction that had been made by American Seabees.  It was supported by six enormous I-beams three feet tall.  To destroy it, Colonel Ripley would have to hand-walk and crawl 500 pounds of TNT and Plastic Explosives one hundred feet into its under belly.  All the while, he would be submitted to continual enemy fire.  His difficulties were multiplied by the sleep and food deprivation he had suffered throughout the previous days.

The feat was so difficult that no one believed survival, let alone successful completion, was possible.  Nevertheless, after hours of intense physical exertion, everything had been put in place, the charges were detonated and the bridge was no more.  Colonel Ripley was awarded the Navy Cross for his actions that day.

Some historians have argued that the destruction of that bridge was the single most important factor that postponed the defeat of South Vietnam until 1975.

However, there is another individual on whose shoulders the defense of South Vietnam during the Easter Offensive weighed heavily, but who has received insufficient historic recognition so far.  That is why Mr. Botkin’s description of the role played by Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Turley is of particular value.

When the Lieutenant Colonel chose to return to Vietnam in 1971, there were only about one thousand Marines still on the ground.  Since President Nixon’s policy of “Vietnamization” was fully underway, the brunt of the fighting was being born by Vietnamese soldiers.  That is why Lieutenant Colonel Turley fully expected to see little if any action during this, his second tour.

His role as assistant senior Marine advisor would consist in helping senior Marine advisor Colonel Josh Dorsey and perhaps filling in for him from time to time.  As such, he would live in Saigon, which, at the time, was far removed from combat.  The closest he imagined he would come to actual fighting was an occasional and uneventful visit to the frontlines.

Colonel Gerald Turley, Vietnam hero and author of The Easter Offensive.

His expectations were shattered when, on a four-day visit to I Corps Tactical Zone, the Easter Offensive broke out.  He happened to be at 3rd ARVN Division forward headquarters at Ai Tu when the Army officer in charge there began suffering nervous problems, abandoned his post and ordered Lieutenant Colonel Turley to take the helm.

Worse yet, communications with higher leadership in Saigon were practically nonexistent, meaning this change in command went unreported.  In addition to facing the largest Communist advance of the entire war, Lieutenant Colonel Turley also had to confront hostile and mistrustful leaders, who continually second guessed his decisions and attempted to countermand many of his orders.  The situation was so desperate, he was forced to take responsibility for disregarding some of the directives he received from higher-ups.

While other players in the offensive faced their predicament with the support of their leaders, expecting praise if they survived, Lieutenant Colonel Turley could only anticipate disciplinary action and perhaps court martial.

Diorama depicting Colonel John Ripley underneath the Dong Ha bridge located in Bancroft Hall at the United States Naval Academy.

Even when he ordered Colonel Ripley to destroy the Dong Ha Bridge, he did so against the direct wishes of his commanders.  However, the reality of over two hundred tanks about to cross the Cua Viet River and invade South Vietnam was too dangerous for him to accept when he had the possibility to prevent it.

In spite of having no food, virtually no sleep and a severe case of dysentery, he faced the opposition of his superiors and stood by his post, directing air, naval and ground operations that salvaged a desperate situation.  He continued in this capacity for a full four days until he was ordered back to headquarters for questioning.  The physical, psychological and moral stress he faced during this time can hardly be imagined.

Nevertheless, he survived and emerged as one of the greatest examples of “honor and triumph” of the entire war.

The stories of these three heroes and much more are included in Rich Botkin’s Ride the Thunder.  This makes it a must-read for all military-buffs, American patriots and especially those who are interested in knowing the true history of the Vietnam War – one not tainted by politically correct historians intent on criticizing America and especially its military.

However, readers should be warned that Mr. Botkin’s book, while less offensive than many military volumes, does have its share of profanity, which he mostly limited to the contents of direct quotes from characters in the book.  Similarly, there are references, though not graphic, to those activities that have unfortunately been so closely linked with soldiers throughout history.

Nevertheless, Ride the Thunder is an exciting and highly informative read.  No one’s military library is complete without it.

The report below was sent by a Company Commander of the Third Battalion, Fourth Marines serving in Afghanistan. Such a positive report is not the type of thing we commonly see in our papers here and is worth reading.

Village of Now Zad in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

“I finally have a minute to sit down and write a letter concerning the past few weeks here in Now Zad.  I wanted to make sure that I got the word out to everyone, so please send this out to friends and family that I may have missed on the distr[ibution] list.  I first want to say how incredibly proud of my boys I am.  These Marines have been amazing and continue to be amazing. Between them and the amazing support staff that we have in 3/4 that allows us to do quite literally whatever we want to the Taliban, this has almost been an easy operation.  Here are the up sides:

1) Not a single Marine was killed or seriously wounded during this operation.

2) We have taken more ground, run off more Taliban, liberated more villages, and seized more weapons and Home Made Explosives than has ever happened in Now Zad.  One of the caches of HME that we blew up was over 1100 lbs of HME (for a reference, that’s over 16 “Mine-Proof” vehicles completely destroyed) and it was the largest find in Helmand Province.  Ever.

Marines from the 1st Battalion, 7th Marines taking the fight to the enemy.

3) We air inserted two companies, behind enemy lines, while my company went straight up the gut of the enemy’s defense on the ground.  The enemy was so terrified that he abandoned his stockpiles and ran away to where he thought he was safe.  Some of them ran right into the arms of the British Battalion to our East, some of them we have hunted down since they ran.

More importantly, we have begun to HOLD the ground by immediately building coalition positions in strategic locations all over the valley and partnering with the local Police and Army units.  Let’s not forget, the infantry is a TERRAIN based organization.  We don’t have to kill people in order to do our job, only if those people don’t want us on that specific piece of dirt and wants to come get a taste.

4) We aggressively sought out and crushed a Murder and Intimidation racket that was going on in our AO.  (M&I campaigns are used when the enemy has no other tactic but overwhelming fear to instill on the local population.  The ‘night letters’ that were being delivered said things like: “If you accept help from Coalition Forces we will kill your children one by one…”  Except that Marines got to the letter writers first.  Whammy.

5) We have re-opened a once deserted town to the people and have begun to pay them to clean it up.  Quick cash infusion + Heavy labor for young men + promise of more work = no young guys re-enlisting in the Taliban.  One of the key components of this plan was to instantly follow up with a Civil Affairs Group that would handle local national problems that weren’t related to the Taliban (food, shelter, work, etc…)

6) We have begun Medical Programs for the locals with what supplies we have.  Those supplies are limited, but they are able to cover things like burns, and kids stepping on mines (yes, we MedEvac them just like we would a Marine), and skin rashes, and even an infant with pneumonia who is just fine, now.

7) Our engineers breached a mine-field that had completely frozen other forces.  Our Danish friends brought some tanks to help us out and they were able to break up one or two ambushes for us.  Nothing is cooler than getting ambushed and having tanks with you to respond.  Nothing.

Lance Corporal Jeremy R. Riddle, looks through his scope for any threats in Kabul, Afghanistan. (February, 2003)

8.) Your Marines stayed on point, in the freezing cold weather, with the rain soaking them to the bone, to hunt down the Taliban who had been abusing, killing, and stealing from the people of the Now Zad Valley.

9) We are bringing back government into Now Zad, so people have an alternative than the Taliban to settle their legal disputes, and have someone to hold accountable for a lack of medical coverage, and to go to with their grievances about farming and commerce and security.  They won’t NEED us to hold them up any longer.

If all of this sounds like hubris, maybe it is.  But I’m so proud of my Company and my Battalion for the planning and the execution and the follow through that they have done.  Be proud of your Marines, they did good workin December.  Merry Christmas to everyone.  Much Love to all, let your friends know, we’re winning and it feels good.”

James Eddie Wright

Seargent James Eddie Wright, hand-to-hand combat instructor at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Commitment to Excellence (MACE) program at Raider Hall in Quantico, VA.

The Amazing story of Sergeant James “Eddie” Wright. The story below appeared on the Blackfive website.

*   *   *   *

…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.”

Bronze_Star_medal

Bronze Star

“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.”