Many of us have been there and done that -- But lets not forget the young Troops that are doing it today.
-- Afghan Cliff Clash Earns U.S. Military Unit Record 10 Silver Stars
-- K9 Medal of honor winner - 9/13/2008
-- Largest Re-enlistment Ceremony - Ever
-- Gulf War Syndrome is Real, Caused by Toxic Exposure - 11/18/2008
Cliff Clash Earns U.S. Military Unit Record 10 Silver Stars
December 12, 2008
Capt. Kyle Walton remembers pressing himself into the jagged stones that covered the cliff in northeast Afghanistan.
Machine gun rounds and sniper fire ricocheted off the rocks. Two rounds slammed into his helmet, smashing his head into the ground. Nearby, three of his U.S. Army Special Forces comrades were gravely wounded. One grenade or a well-aimed bullet, Walton thought, could etch April 6, 2008 on his gravestone.
Walton and his team from the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group had been sent to kill or capture terrorists from a rugged valley that had never been penetrated by U.S. forces — or, they had been told, the Soviets before them.
He peered over the side of the cliff to the dry river bed 60 feet below and considered his options. Could he roll the wounded men off and then jump to safety? Would they survive the fall?
By the end of the six-hour battle deep within the Shok Valley, Walton would bear witness to heroics that on Friday would earn his team 10 Silver Stars, the most for a single battle in Afghanistan.
Walton, a Special Forces team leader, and his men described the battle in an interview with The Associated Press last week. Most seem unimpressed they've earned the Army's third-highest award for combat valor.
"This is the story about Americans fighting side-by-side with their Afghan counterparts refusing to quit," said Walton, of Carmel, Ind. "What awards come in the aftermath are not important to me."
The mission that sent three Special Forces teams and a company from the 201st Afghan Commando Battalion to the Shok Valley seemed imperiled from the outset.
Six massive CH-47 Chinook helicopters had deposited the men earlier that morning, banking through thick clouds as they entered the valley. The approaching U.S. soldiers watched enemy fighters racing to positions dug into the canyon walls and to sniper holes carved into stone houses perched at the top of the cliff.
Considered a sanctuary of the Hezeb Islami al Gulbadin terrorist group, the valley is far from any major American base.
It was impossible for the helicopters to land on the jagged rocks at the bottom of the valley. The Special Forces soldiers and commandos, each carrying more than 60 pounds of gear, dropped from 10 feet above the ground, landing among boulders or in a near-frozen stream.
With several Afghan commandos, Staff Sgt. John Walding and Staff Sgt. David Sanders led the way on a narrow path that zig-zagged up the cliff face to a nearby village where the terrorists were hiding.
Walton followed with two other soldiers and a 23-year-old Afghan interpreter who went by the name C.K., an orphan who dreamed of going to the United States.
Walding and Sanders were on the outskirts of the village when Staff Sgt. Luis Morales saw a group of armed men run along a nearby ridge. He fired. The surrounding mountains and buildings erupted in an ambush: The soldiers estimate that more than 200 fighters opened up with rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and AK-47s.
C.K. crumbled to the ground.
Walton and Spc. Michael Carter dove into a small cave. Staff Sgt. Dillon Behr couldn't fit so the Rock Island, Ill., native dropped to one knee and started firing. An F-15 made a strafing run to push back the fighters, but it wasn't enough.
Sanders radioed for close air support — an order that Walton had to verify because the enemy was so near that the same bombs could kill the Americans.
The nearest house exploded; the firing didn't stop.
"Hit it again," Sanders said.
For the rest of the battle, F-15 fighters and Apache helicopters attacked.
Behr was hit next — a sniper's round passing through his leg. Morales knelt on Behr's hip to stop the bleeding and kept firing until he, too, was hit in the leg and ankle.
Walton and Carter, a combat cameraman from Smithville, Texas, dragged the two wounded men to the cave. Gunfire had destroyed Carter's camera so Walton put him to work treating Morales who, in turn, kept treating Behr.
Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, a medic from Pullman, Wash., fought his way up the cliff to help.
"Heard some guys got hit up here," he said as he reached the cave, pulling bandages and gear from his aid bag.
Walton told Walding and Sanders to abandon the assault and meet on the cliff. The Americans and Afghan commandos pulled back as the Air Force continued to pound the village.
Walding made it to the cliff when a bullet shattered his leg. He watched his foot and lower leg flop on the ground as Walton dragged him to the cliff edge. With every heartbeat, a stream of blood shot out of Walding's wound. Rolling on his back, the Groesbeck, Texas, native, asked for a tourniquet and cranked down until the bleeding stopped.
The soldiers were trapped against the cliff. Walton was sure his men would be overrun. The narrow path was too exposed. He sent Sanders to find another way down. Sometimes free-climbing the rock face, the Huntsville, Ala., native found a steep path and made his way back up. Could the wounded make it out alive? Walton asked.
"Yes, they'll survive," Sanders said.
Down below, Staff Sgt. Seth E. Howard took his sniper rifle and started climbing with Staff Sgt. Matthew Williams.
At the top, Howard used C.K.'s lifeless body for cover and started to shoot. He fired repeatedly, killing as many as 20 of their attackers, his comrades say. The enemy gunfire slowed. The Air Force bombing continued, providing cover.
Morales was first down the cliff, clutching branches and rocks as he slid. Sanders, Carter and Williams went up to get Behr, then back up to rescue Walding. As Walton climbed down, a 2,000-pound bomb hit a nearby house. Another strike nearly blew Howard off the cliff.
Helicopters swooped in to pick up the 15 wounded American and
Afghan soldiers, as well as the rest of the teams. Bullets pinged
off the helicopters. One hit a pilot.
All the Americans survived.
Months later, Walding wants back on the team even though he lost a leg. Morales walks with a cane.
The raid, the soldiers say, proved there will be no safe haven in Afghanistan for terrorists. As for the medals, the soldiers see them as emblems of teamwork and brotherhood. Not valor.
"When you go to help your buddy, you're not thinking, 'I am
going to get a Silver Star for this,"' Walding said. "If you were
there, there would not be a second guess on why."
Panel Concludes Gulf War Syndrome is Real, Caused by Toxic
Posted Nov 18, 2008 by Chris Hogg
A panel has ruled "Gulf War Syndrome" is in fact real. In the most extensive look ever at the multi-symptom disease, a congressionally-mandated panel says more than one quarter of the 700,000 veterans of the 1991 war suffer from the illness.
Digital Journal - Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) has long been reported by combat veterans of the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf. Symptoms include a combination of memory and concentration problems, persistent headaches, unexplained fatigue and widespread pain, and may also include chronic digestive problems, respiratory symptoms and skin rashes. It has never been quite clear whether symptoms were related to the Gulf War, despite years of complaints from veterans. That is, until now.
A panel of veterans and scientists, led by the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans' Illnesses, has concluded the illness is real and it was caused by "exposure to toxic chemicals, including pesticides and a drug administered to protect troops against nerve gas."
In the 450-page report released Monday, the panel says no effective treatment has been found.
“The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that Gulf War illness is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time,” the report says.
According to a media release, the report brings together a range of scientific research and government investigations, for the first time, to resolve questions about the condition.
"Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War had the distinction of serving their country in a military operation that was a tremendous success, achieved in short order. But many had the misfortune of developing lasting health consequences that were poorly understood and, for too long, denied or trivialized," the report said.
According to the report, Gulf War Syndrome differs a great deal from stress-released syndromes found in veterans of other wars. “Studies consistently indicate that Gulf War illness is not the result of combat or other stressors, and that Gulf War veterans have lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder than veterans of other wars,” the Committee wrote.
The panel says a federal research commitment is now needed to "achieve the critical objectives of improving the health of Gulf War veterans and preventing similar problems in future deployments."
"Veterans of the first Gulf War have been plagued by ill health since their return 17 years ago," said Committee Scientific Director Roberta White. "Although the evidence for this health phenomenon is overwhelming, veterans repeatedly find that their complaints are met with cynicism and a 'blame the victim' mentality that attributes their health problems to mental illness or non-physical factors."
White says the report outlines how clinicians and researchers can look to find treatment for the disease. The panel said two Gulf War exposures were "consistently found to be causally associated with Gulf War illness." They include the drug pyridostigmine bromide (PB) that troops took for protection against nerve gas, as well as pesticide exposure that was common in the Gulf War.
"The Committee found that an association between Gulf War illness and several other exposures could not be ruled out," the press release reads. "These included low-level exposures to nerve agents, extended exposure to smoke from oil well fires, receipt of large numbers of vaccines, and combinations of neurotoxic exposures."
According to Department of Defense reports, 100,000 troops were potentially exposed to low-level nerve agents. A 2007 study found this exposure could have caused lasting brain deficits.
The panel says U.S. officials should earmark $60 million annually for programs to treat the disease.
Largest Re-enlistment Ceremony - Ever
I'm sure you already know about this. It was shown over and over on TV, right? OK, so maybe it wasn't shown over and over, but surely it was shown on TV at least one time, wasn't it ?
This was the largest re-enlistment ceremony ever held in military history. The ceremony was held on the 4th of July, 2008 at Al Faw Palace, Baghdad , Iraq . General David Petraeus officiated This amazing story was ignored by the 'mainstream' media.
For those who have been in the Al Faw Palace, you'll have a better appreciation of the number of people crammed around the rotunda supporting the re-enlisting soldiers.
American men and women volunteering to stay longer in Iraq, so that when we leave, the new democracy will have a chance of surviving, is the exact opposite of what the media wants you to think about Iraq. If only a bomb had killed 5 civilians in a marketplace - now that's the kind of news the media is eager to tell you about.
A pizzeria in Chicago donated 2000 pizzas that were made and shipped to Baghdad , and were delivered on the 4th. The media did report that 2000 pizzas were sent to Iraq on July 4th... The part they left out of the report was the event for which the pizzas were sent.
I can't help but wonder what the opinion of Americans would be if they were being told the truth by the news media.
Control the Media, Control the Children: Control the Nation.
Brutus, a military K9 at McChord and
Medal of Honor Winner
He's huge - part Boxer and part British Bull Mastiff and tops the scales at 200 lbs. His handler took the picture. Brutus is running toward me because he knows I have some Milk Bone treats, so he's slobbering away! I had to duck around a tree just before he got to me in case he couldn't stop, but he did. Brutus won the Congressional Medal of Honor last year from his tour in Iraq. His handler and four other soldiers were taken hostage by insurgents. Brutus and his handler communicate by sign language and he gave Brutus the signal that meant 'go away but come back and find me'. The Iraqis paid no attention to Brutus. He came back later and quietly tore the throat out of one guard at one door and another guard at another door. He then jumped against one of the doors repeatedly (the guys were being held in an old warehouse) until it opened. He went in and untied his handler and they all escaped. He's the first K9 to receive this honor. If he knows you're ok, he's a big old lug and wants to sit in your lap. Enjoys the company of cats.
Thought you'd find this interesting. Talk about animal intelligence and bonding with humans!
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