America’s fighting men and women have endured the hardships of combat for almost 250 years. However, those hardships haven’t prevented Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen from celebrating the Holy holiday. CombatTales.com presents a look at American war fighters celebrating Christmas during times of war.
Often the service of guard and reserve service members is pushed aside by uninformed observers as easy or un-important duty. The 42nd Infantry Division is one of many National Guard and Reserve units that served proudly in Iraq and endured casualties. Look inside for a video detailing the Rainbow Division’s service in Iraq.
President Obama finally gave his speech stating that all American troops will be out of Iraq by the end of 2012. It has been nine years since we first stepped foot on the “Fertile Crescent” (at least since the start of the war) and it is about time that our troops come home. I spent plenty of time over there. I watched some of my fellow combatants lose their sight, their limbs and their lives. Military advisers and contractors will stay but the United States military will come back home- finally. The question everyone wants to know though, was it worth it?
Being in the Army has its perks- free food, housing, travel- the list goes on. However, when you are deployed in wartime situations, sometimes a soldier may not feel that way. I have had the pleasure of being deployed on numerous occasions, some of which only lasted a few days and others lasted almost a year. My second tour in Iraq had to be the most memorable and here is why…
Camp Falcon: Baghdad 2007.
After leaving Kuwait and then spending four days on a holdover at the Baghdad International Airport, I was just ready to get to where ever the heck it was we were going. The arrangements there were not too pleasant; there was a choice of sleeping on a concrete floor where everybody was hanging out watching TV, or take your chances outside on the rocks where the unearthly Iraqi bugs roamed.
I’ve really enjoyed reading the stories on this site and some of the stories spark memories of some of my own experiences in Iraq in the 1-37 Field Artillery.
We landed in Kuwait in mid-November 2003 and I don’t remember it being unbearably hot, just hot. I do remember the descent into the Kuwait City area and seeing sand absolutely everywhere.
Finally the nineteen hours of flight has ended. As the plane lands the seriousness of our situation sets in. Our captain stands up and begins his briefing, although who is really listening?
To Whom It May Concern
Camp Liberty, Baghdad 2007
The walk back from the Chapel was different this time. Not because he was in our squad and someone I had spoken to moments before the death, not because this was the fourth casualty our unit had suffered so far this month, the mind somehow blocks those truths out. This was a new emotion, something that many of us must have been feeling for awhile now and yet still managed to keep buried for so long now. This was Hate, pure and simple. Hate for the people, hate for the country, and hate for our damned selves for having to be there.
U.S. Army Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division & IA engaging Insurgents during a firefight in Iraq.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action with an armed enemy near Baghdad International Airport, Baghdad, Iraq on 4 April 2003. On that day, Sergeant First Class Smith was engaged in the construction of a prisoner of war holding area when his Task Force was violently attacked by a company-sized enemy force. Realizing the vulnerability of over 100 fellow soldiers, Sergeant First Class Smith quickly organized a hasty defense consisting of two platoons of soldiers, one Bradley Fighting Vehicle and three armored personnel carriers. As the fight developed, Sergeant First Class Smith braved hostile enemy fire to personally engage the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the evacuation of three wounded soldiers from an armored personnel carrier struck by a rocket propelled grenade and a 60mm mortar round. Fearing the enemy would overrun their defenses, Sergeant First Class Smith moved under withering enemy fire to man a .50 caliber machine gun mounted on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained his exposed position in order to engage the attacking enemy force. During this action, he was mortally wounded. His courageous actions helped defeat the enemy attack, and resulted in as many as 50 enemy soldiers killed, while allowing the safe withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers. Sergeant First Class Smith’s extraordinary heroism and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself, the Third Infantry Division “Rock of the Marne,” and the United States Army.
Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as automatic weapons gunner for Naval Special Warfare Task Group Arabian Peninsula, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM on 29 September 2006. As a member of a combined SEAL and Iraqi Army Sniper Overwatch Element, tasked with providing early warning and stand-off protection from a rooftop in an insurgent held sector of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Petty Officer Monsoor distinguished himself by his exceptional bravery in the face of grave danger. In the early morning, insurgents prepared to execute a coordinated attack by reconnoitering the area around the element’s position. Element snipers thwarted the enemy’s initial attempt by eliminating two insurgents. The enemy continued to assault the element, engaging them with a rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire. As enemy activity increased, Petty Officer Monsoor took position with his machine gun between two teammates on an outcropping of the roof. While the SEALs vigilantly watched for enemy activity, an insurgent threw a hand grenade from an unseen location, which bounced off Petty Officer Monsoor’s chest and landed in front of him. Although only he could have escaped the blast, Petty Officer Monsoor chose instead to protect his teammates. Instantly and without regard for his own safety, he threw himself onto the grenade to absorb the force of the explosion with his body, saving the lives of his two teammates. By his undaunted courage, fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of certain death, Petty Officer Monsoor gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.