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Sgt. Peralta died very much like Michael Monsoor when he led a group of other Marines through a series of house clearings, during the November 2004 Battle for Fallujah. They were successful in the first three house, but things went bad in a hurry as they charged the fourth.
The Landstuhl Hospital Care Project describes how Sgt. Peralta “found two rooms empty on the ground floor, but upon opening a third door he was hit multiple times with AK-47 fire that left him severely wounded. He dropped to the floor and moved aside in order to allow the Marines behind him to return fire.”
Moments later terrorist inside the room threw a grenade at the Marines. Sgt. Peraldas Wickapedia page describes how “The two Marines with Sgt. Peralta tried to get out of the room, but could not. Sgt. Peralta was still conscious on the floor and reports indicate that, despite his wounds, he was able to reach for the grenade and pull it under his body absorbing the majority of the lethal blast and shrapnel which killed him instantly, but saved the lives of his fellow Marines.”
In a Newsweek article about the event, Cpl. Robert Reynolds explained how Sgt. Peralta collapsed onto the floor in a “pool of blood,” after being shot. “Then Reynolds spotted what is the dread of every infantryman: a grenade bouncing toward the squad. “It was yellow and it came from a room to our side,” he says. Reynolds says he watched Peralta reach out and drag the grenade under his body.”
Pfc Ricardo Peralta was only 14 when his brother died in such a selfless way, but is quoted in the above article as saying, “I knew what I had to do, and that was to enlist in the Marine Corps.”
For nearly twenty years, a crowd has gathered at Fort Benning in mid-November to protest against the activities of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly called the School of the Americas) and demand its closure.
The annual event is more than just a protest. It is a gathering of the scattered fringes of the religious, political and cultural left who use the event as a platform to push ideas that range from drug legalization to abortion or even women’s ordination. Leftist Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois leads this gathering which includes a large collection of socialists, liberation theology advocates and anarchists. It is no surprise that the 71-year-old priest automatically incurred excommunication for openly opposing Church doctrine.
For nearly twenty years, both he and his protesters have resisted the Army’s efforts to “dialogue.” They reject outright the Army’s unconditional offers to open its doors to any who wish to review the school’s operation.
Nearly twenty years of protest calls to mind another twenty-year milestone – the fall of the Berlin Wall. In light of this commemoration, we offer some considerations.
A Continued Danger
On the twentieth anniversary of fall of the Berlin Wall, we might be tempted to think that the world’s great military dangers have passed. However, that is not the case. We still live in a world of violence and uncertainties. Our enemies are no longer concentrated behind an Iron Curtain but are scattered about the world in the form of radical groups and rogue nations all too willing to threaten the peace.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, one would hope that at least the outdated Marxist ideas that caused so much misery all over the world would be consigned to the dustbin of history. However, that is not the case. Guerrilla groups in Latin America like Colombia’s FARC still defend their outdated Marxist ideas through violence and bloodshed. There is still Stalinist North Korea, poverty-stricken Cuba and Communist China oppressing its people and trampling on human natural rights. There is Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela exporting his Bolivarian socialist revolution across Latin America – including the building of a nuclear program.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, it would be hoped that the terrors of our age might also fall. However, that is not the case. Terror or the threat of terror lives as the tactic of choice among Islamic radicals who can be found in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan or Palestine. Iran’s mullahs stand ready to develop nuclear arms. Suicide bombers strike terror into whole nations and put fear into the hearts of thousands who might become the next innocent victims.
Pacifists Do Not Keep the Peace
Now more than ever, we need the soldier to keep the peace.
We note, however, that it was not the pacifists that brought down the Berlin Wall. Theirs was a constant message of concession, “dialogue,” and defeat.
When the terrible wall came crashing down, these Marxists were nowhere to be found to condemn the massive misery that lay exposed in those communist countries. They did not renounce their adherence to this system which they fought so hard to impose upon the West.
We tend to forget that it was the soldier that helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall. The soldier took upon himself the thankless task of confronting evil by force of arms. It was the soldier that risked all to do his duty wherever he was called to go without hesitation or complaint. The American soldier and his counterparts all over the world stood down the Communist threat in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
His services are no less needed in our days.
Thank the Heroes
Thus, we need to thank – not protest – these heroes who put their lives on the line. These heroes guarantee the peace. We live freely because they made the greatest of sacrifices – even that of life.
We remember Medal of Honor heroes like Private First Class Ross A. McGinnis who distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty when he threw himself upon a fragmentation grenade and saved four soldiers from certain serious injury or death in Iraq in December of 2006. We remember Navy Seal Michael Monsoor, who likewise unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals on September 29, 2006.
We can also remember heroes like the late Col. John W. Ripley whose heroism in Vietnam was legendary. These and so many more make up those legions of heroes that deserve not our scorn but our gratitude.
Where Will They Turn?
There are those who protest against the soldier. They see his role as one buttressing structures of oppression and power. They are ready to label those who still fight against Marxism as murderers and assassins. They turn a blind eye to a ruthless enemy who breaks all rules and conventions as Marxists have always done. They would deny defenseless populations the training and tools needed to defend themselves against this enemy.
In the case of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, they ignore the fact that the overwhelming majority of its graduates have committed no crime save that of wanting to keep their country safe and free. They are prepared to amplify any alleged crime of a soldier to gigantic proportions while reducing to nothing the blatant abuses of Marxists in countries like Cuba, China, Nicaragua, and Venezuela.
We ask those who protest: When the fury of the terrorists turns upon them, who will they appeal to? When their freedom is taken away with the same disregard as Colombia’s FARC guerrillas take the freedom of their innocent hostages, where will they turn? When their right to protest is met with bullets and tanks like that of Tiananmen Square, who will be there to defend them?
They will turn to the soldier who defends even those who calumniate him.
A Call to Gratitude
The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) calls upon the public to thank the heroes.
Let us thank them for standing up to the Soviet menace that lurked behind the Berlin Wall that fell twenty years ago. Let us thank those who still fight and keep our nation safe and help other nations do likewise.
Let us, of course, censor any abuses, but let us also be consistent and condemn the systemic and widespread abuses that have come from Castro’s Cuba, the FARC guerillas and other leftist movements who still uphold the outdated and iniquitous Marxist ideologies that built the infamous Berlin Wall.
As Americans, let us be proud of our heroes as they continue to fight and train others to defend their nations against those who threaten the peace.
May God protect them and their families in their daily battles around the world.
Was Michael Monsoor a Muslim? Well that’s the impression a person might get after reading the November 9, 2009 New York Times article “Complications Grow for Muslims Serving in U.S. Military”, by Andrea Elliott.
For those unfamiliar with Michael Monsoor. He was the Navy Seal who unselfishly gave his life, in order to save his fellow Seals, when he jumped on a live grenade on September 29, 2006. He was the only one, in a roof top overlook, who could have escaped unharmed that day, yet he chose to give his life instead. In doing so he not only overcame his own instinct of self preservation but he actually went against what SEALS are trained to do in such circumstances.
Those who survived described him as “never taking his eyes off the grenade” and always moving down and toward the explosive. The most moving tribute to Monsoor came from one of the SEALS who survived. “Mikey looked death in the face that day,” he recounted, “and said, ‘you cannot take my brothers, I will go in their stead.’”
Let all tongues be mute.
Now we have the opposite thing take place on the largest Army base in the world when another soldier, Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, turned his weapons on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood; thirteen were left dead in his wake of destruction. As he was carrying out this massacre, Hasan was reported to be continually yelling “Allah Akbar”, the same thing Muslim extremist scream as they cut off the heads of their American victims.
There are those who refuse to see the religious motivations for the actions of Hasan, but what writer Andrea Elliott does in her November 9th article simply goes beyond the pale.
She tells of the woes Muslims face in the military but then ends the article by showing the great contribution, by people of the Muslim religion, that are often overlooked. Among those she cites is a soldier who received the Bronze Star. This soldier pointed out how “many Americans overlook the heroic efforts of Muslims in uniform.” The prime example he gave was that of Michael Monsoor.
Michael Monsoor was of Lebanese descent and he was a practicing Roman Catholic. His godmother personally told me, in an interview for my article No Greater Love, that he frequented the sacraments. His attendance at Sunday mass left such an impression on those who served with him, that they sometimes joined him. Besides attending mass he also frequented the sacrament of confession. He was an exemplary individual in many ways but most especially by his practice of his Catholic faith. To insinuate in any way the he was Muslim is a gross ignorance of the facts and misleading for the reader.
A two minute search on Google is all that is needed to find out the facts I have narrated in this article. Why did Mrs. Elliott not take the time to research who Michael Monsoor was before allowing such a gross misrepresentation of the man in our nation’s most prominent newspaper.
What is so insulting about all of this is the contrast between the actions of the two men. Maj. Hasan was, from what every report indicates, full of hatred, whereas Michael Monsoor was motivated by the purest of love, a love which was said to have no equal by our Savior Himself: “No Greater Love.”
Andrea Elliott owes an apology to the Monsoor parents and to the American people. Heroes of the caliber of Michael Monsoor are extremely rare in the world we live in. He was young, handsome, strong and had his whole life ahead of him when he stepped onto the Ramadi rooftop that day in 2006. He had everything life can offer and in the blinking of an eye he gave all of it up. He was given a choice to save himself or his friends. He chose, in a split second, to save his friends. He is an example for us all and he deserves better than this.
Note: Since the original posting of this article, the New York Times published a correction on November 11, 2009.
|Written by: Norman Fulkerson|
When Michael Monsoor jumped on a grenade to save the lives of three Navy Seals in September of 2006, the nation was left speechless. The Medal of Honor was presented to his grieving parents, during a White House reception, as a mournful audience looked on. There was a man in the room that day that might have seemed like just another soldier, if not for the peculiar spring in his step.
His name is William “Spanky” Gibson. He had just flown in from overseas and had a good reason for being present at the ceremony. He lost his left leg during a firefight in Iraq six months before and it was Michael Monsoor who provided cover in a rooftop overlook that contributed toward saving his life. It would be hard to find someone more worthy of that sacrifice than William Gibson. Like Petty Officer Monsoor, he is a tribute to the American soldier and his story deserves to be told.
By the time “Spanky” was only five years old, his father, William Sr., said he knew exactly what he wanted to be in life.
“When I grow up,” he said, “I am going to be just like grandpa.”
His grandfather, Peterson Parrott, a 30-year Marine, visited his impressionable grandson on a stopover while transferring from the East to the West coast. When Spanky saw his grandfather in uniform with all his decorations, he was fascinated. During his stay, Mr. Parrott kept his medals on a high shelf out of reach of the idealistic youth but made him a promise.
“When you grow tall enough to reach those medals,” Mr. Parrott said, “You can have them.”
By the time he grew tall enough, he had already joined the Marines and was well on his way to earning his own medals for bravery.
“[A soldier is] all he ever wanted to be,” said his father.
Alongside him was an Iraqi soldier; a man he helped train.
Suddenly they came under fire from a sniper in a nearby house. The Iraqi soldier was shot in the knee and incapacitated. With total disregard for his own safety, Sgt. Gibson ran to his rescue when a 30-caliber round ripped through his left knee cap, destroying the socket and severing his femoral artery.
The identical nature of the injuries, coming from a trained enemy marksman might have been an intentional plan to increase the confusion of already violent firefight. If they thought Sgt. Gibson would just lie their screaming in pain before being finished off later, they were sorely mistaken.
“Gunny” Gibson, as his men often called him, never missed a beat. Thinking that his knee had only given out, he attempted to stand before realizing the severity of his injury. Not allowing this to deter him, he simply rolled over and began returning fire. If not for the immediate assistance given to him by a SEAL corpsman, he would have bled to death on the battlefield. As he was dragged from the scene, he continued to lay down suppressive fire in spite of the pain and massive loss of blood.
“What will this do to my career?”
The Commandant assured him that it would affect his career only to the degree that he allowed it to do so. This was a veritable invitation for Sgt. Gibson to fight as hard towards full rehabilitation as he fought on the streets of Ramadi. The fight began when he was encouraged to get out of the Marine Corps. Undeterred by the suggestion, William Gibson called the Commandant directly and found the support he needed to remain.
What Sgt. Gibson faced later is truly inspiring. The lower part of his left leg had been amputated overseas before he arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. In spite of the seriousness of his injury, he mystified those around him with the constant inquiry: “When can I return to Iraq?” Those witnessing such determination were shocked, considering he might lose the rest of his leg. They were wondering how he would adjust to a life with a prosthetic while Sgt. Gibson was thinking about fighting a war with one.
“I would beg the surgeons every time they would come in,” he said with a smile, “to cut it off, close me up and get me out of here.”
He knew that “out of here” meant one step closer to his goal of returning to combat with or without the remaining part of his left leg. The surgeons were unsuccessful. Sgt. Gibson ended up losing the rest of his leg, but he never lost his will to fight.
“It isn’t growing back” he was quoted as saying, “so let’s start recovering.”
As unbelievable as this might be, Sgt. Gibsons attitude towards a long recovery was even more so.
“What is the shortest time of anyone recovering from such an injury?” his wife Chaney remembered him asking the doctors. He was told that the quickest anyone made it through rehab was thirteen months, but some were as long as eighteen to twenty four months.
“I am not doing that,” was Sgt. Gibson defiant response.
Escape from Alcatraz
It wasn’t long before he tackled something which even a man with two legs would hesitate attempting and that was the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. This would turn out to be the break he needed to return to Iraq.
The Triathlon is a yearly event in which swimmers are dropped on the island in the San Francisco Bay where the famous prison is located. The first part of the Triathlon entails swimming to shore in freezing cold, shark-infested waters. Sgt. Gibson made the swim with only one leg and came in among the top ten.
When he reached the shore he was greeted by the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General James Mattis.
“What can I do for you, Marine?” Gen. Mattis asked the winded but determined soldier.
“I want to be re-deployed,” said Sgt. Gibson.
“You can come with me in January,” Gen. Mattis said, “or a later flight, which would you prefer?”
Sgt. Gibson chose the first flight out and after making the trip in January of 2008 with General James Mattis, he has become the first full leg amputee ever to return to duty in a combat zone.
“He doesn’t feel like he has done anything special,” she says. In the face of a writer who approached the family with the idea of writing a book about Sgt. Gibson, his mother says his attitude remained the same. “Why would anyone want to read about me,” he argues, “I have just done my job?”
Perhaps the most amazing thing about William Gibson is his refusal to allow the loss of a leg to get him down. This no doubt is a character trait he inherited from his father; a Vietnam veteran who suffered a broken back in combat. When doctors told William Sr. that he would never walk again he proved them wrong. “You never say can’t,” Mr. Gibson said. “It might be difficult, but you can do it.”
The only moment of sadness for Sgt. Gibson came with the thought of having to leave the battlefield after his injury.
At the time he was wounded, Sgt. Gibson was a 35-year-old veteran Marine, fighting alongside much younger Marines who were seeing their first action. He believed strongly in leading his men in battle, not pushing them from behind. It was for this reason that he was disappointed at having to leave “his boys” alone in battle while he was evacuated.
He would go on to say that if given the chance to change anything that happened that day, he wouldn’t. “Better me,” he said, “than one of my men.”
* * *
Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson is safely home now and while his return to battle without a leg might have earned him a place in the history books, his example has earned him a place in the heart of every patriotic American. He represents all the best our country has to offer and it is nice to know that the sniper bullet which cost him a leg, didn’t touch his honor. Bullets, after all, can be purchased but true valor is priceless.