Showing 548 posts tagged KIA

The embodiment of warrior ethos.
US Army Captain Jennifer M. Moreno. 6 OCT 2013.Died in Zhari district, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during an IED attack. Also killed in the incident were Sergeant Patrick Hawkins, Sergeant Joseph Peters, and Private First Class Cody Patterson. 
berserkerjerk:

blinddragonmetalart:




TACOMA, WASH. — In her last moments of life, Army nurse Capt. Jennifer Moreno heard two orders.
One was a call to help a wounded soldier struck by a blast in a booby-trapped killing field at an Afghanistan bomb-making compound.
The other was a command to stay put lest she strike another mine in the bomb belt.
The nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center chose to help the wounded soldier, and gave her life trying.
In the words of her commander, Moreno ran “into hell” to rescue a comrade on the night she was killed. Newly released narratives of the Oct. 5 battle reveal the kind of hell Moreno and dozens of Army special operators found while trying to disrupt a plot to kill civilians in the city of Kandahar.
A total of 12 bombs exploded that night — a chain reaction that took the lives of four U.S. soldiers and wounded at least 25.
The fifth bomb killed Moreno, 25, of San Diego who volunteered for a dangerous assignment supporting special operators in combat.
The 11th bomb wounded three soldiers trying to recover her body.
Moreno is Madigan’s only fatal casualty from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the hospital south of Tacoma has continuously deployed soldiers to medical facilities in combat zones.
Moreno “sacrificed her life so others could live,” her Bronze Star commendation reads.
The News Tribune previously reported Moreno’s death and covered her memorial service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. But her award commendation, which the newspaper obtained recently, sheds more light on that chaotic day, and on the heroic steps that were taken to honor the Soldiers Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”
BREAKING UP A PLOT
Moreno is one of only 11 women from Lewis-McChord to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one of only two women from the local base who were commissioned officers when they were killed.
Moreno died with Sgt. Patrick Hawkins and Spc. Cody Patterson of the Georgia-based 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and special agent Joseph M. Peters of a military police unit based in Italy.
The Army says their sacrifices stymied an attack “that would have resulted in the deaths of unknown multitudes of innocent civilians.” At least two insurgents died in the compound; two of them were wearing suicide vests.
The narratives were written to support military honors several soldiers received for their actions in the fight. Moreno posthumously received a Bronze Star. So did Hawkins and Patterson.
Spc. Samuel Crockett, who survived that bloody day, received a Silver Star for risking his life over a two-hour rescue. He played a key role in recovering Moreno’s body after the 11th blast, and in providing life-saving medical aid to a wounded soldier.
He also set off the 12th and final bomb, but it had a low detonation that did not injure him.
The battle began as the soldiers approached the compound in Kandahar’s Zhari district and called out for its occupants to surrender.
None of the insurgents inside would be taken alive.
WOMAN IN SUICIDE VEST
The first to die was an Afghan woman walking out of the compound wearing a suicide vest.
She detonated the explosive, killing herself, wounding six troops and setting off a second blast nearby. Two soldiers rushing to help troops wounded in the first blast hit the third bomb. A second enemy fighter died in those early blasts, too.
An Afghan insurgent who ran away from the building detonated the fourth explosive, another suicide vest. The bomb killed him and a military working dog named Jani.
Moreno heard a call from a staff sergeant to help a wounded soldier. At the same time, the battle’s ground commander told all of the soldiers to stay where they were.
Her Bronze Star commendation uses dry, formal military language to describe the decision she faced.
"Disregarding her own well-being," it reads, "Moreno unhesitatingly moved to assist (the soldiers) upon realizing the severity of the wounds sustained by her fellow teammates."
"While in transit, Moreno detonated Device No. 5 and was killed in action."
Few could make the same choice.
"None of us would have done what you did, running into hell to save your wounded brothers, knowing full well you probably wouldn’t make it back," the commander of Moreno’s female Special Operations support team in Afghanistan, Capt. Amanda King, later wrote in a eulogy.
'FOLLOW ME'
The battle did not end with Moreno’s sacrifice.
"Follow me," Hawkins told Patterson as they made their move to reach the wounded.
Patterson stepped on a mine, the sixth detonation. He stumbled and hit the seventh, delivering fatal wounds to both him and Hawkins.
Peters, the military police officer, set off explosions No. 8 and No. 9 after working to clear a helicopter landing zone for medical evacuations.
Crockett arrived with a 20-soldier force dispatched to clear the area of mines and rescue the wounded. He was trained for the job as a soldier in a North Carolina-based explosives command.
He cleared space for medics to work on casualties and made his way to isolated Rangers, escorting them through the mine belt to safety. He managed to retrieve Hawkins, the fallen military dog and various pieces of sensitive military equipment without detonating more bombs.
"His focus on retrieving teammates from stranded positions ultimately preserved their lives," his Silver Star commendation reads.
11TH EXPLOSIVE
Moreno’s body remained on the field.
Three soldiers from Crockett’s unit tried to retrieve her, but struck the 11th explosive.
Crockett ran to them, halting at the edge of his cleared path.
He saw his platoon sergeant injured but standing. Crockett guided him back to safe ground.
With no clear path to his two newly wounded teammates, Crockett got down to the ground and swept the earth for mines with his own hands.
He reached a private first class who lost his right leg to the bomb. Crockett applied a tourniquet and “single-handedly dragged him to an area where medics could safely render treatment.”
There was one more injured teammate left to recover from the 11th explosion. Crockett set off the final blast as he stepped to the wounded sergeant.
It didn’t kill him, so he continued with the rescue. He chose a different path, again swept the ground with his hands, and brought his teammate back to safety.
Still, Moreno’s body remained where she fell.
Crockett got as close as he could to the fallen nurse, attached a drag line to her and pulled her to the safe area.
With Moreno recovered, the operators made the call to leave the compound.
Finally, they got out of hell. They did not leave one of their own behind.




Read this.

The embodiment of warrior ethos.

US Army Captain Jennifer M. Moreno. 6 OCT 2013.
Died in Zhari district, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained during an IED attack. Also killed in the incident were Sergeant Patrick Hawkins, Sergeant Joseph Peters, and Private First Class Cody Patterson. 

berserkerjerk:

blinddragonmetalart:

TACOMA, WASH.In her last moments of life, Army nurse Capt. Jennifer Moreno heard two orders.

One was a call to help a wounded soldier struck by a blast in a booby-trapped killing field at an Afghanistan bomb-making compound.

The other was a command to stay put lest she strike another mine in the bomb belt.

The nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center chose to help the wounded soldier, and gave her life trying.

In the words of her commander, Moreno ran “into hell” to rescue a comrade on the night she was killed. Newly released narratives of the Oct. 5 battle reveal the kind of hell Moreno and dozens of Army special operators found while trying to disrupt a plot to kill civilians in the city of Kandahar.

A total of 12 bombs exploded that night — a chain reaction that took the lives of four U.S. soldiers and wounded at least 25.

The fifth bomb killed Moreno, 25, of San Diego who volunteered for a dangerous assignment supporting special operators in combat.

The 11th bomb wounded three soldiers trying to recover her body.

Moreno is Madigan’s only fatal casualty from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though the hospital south of Tacoma has continuously deployed soldiers to medical facilities in combat zones.

Moreno “sacrificed her life so others could live,” her Bronze Star commendation reads.

The News Tribune previously reported Moreno’s death and covered her memorial service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. But her award commendation, which the newspaper obtained recently, sheds more light on that chaotic day, and on the heroic steps that were taken to honor the Soldiers Creed: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”

BREAKING UP A PLOT

Moreno is one of only 11 women from Lewis-McChord to die in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and one of only two women from the local base who were commissioned officers when they were killed.

Moreno died with Sgt. Patrick Hawkins and Spc. Cody Patterson of the Georgia-based 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and special agent Joseph M. Peters of a military police unit based in Italy.

The Army says their sacrifices stymied an attack “that would have resulted in the deaths of unknown multitudes of innocent civilians.” At least two insurgents died in the compound; two of them were wearing suicide vests.

The narratives were written to support military honors several soldiers received for their actions in the fight. Moreno posthumously received a Bronze Star. So did Hawkins and Patterson.

Spc. Samuel Crockett, who survived that bloody day, received a Silver Star for risking his life over a two-hour rescue. He played a key role in recovering Moreno’s body after the 11th blast, and in providing life-saving medical aid to a wounded soldier.

He also set off the 12th and final bomb, but it had a low detonation that did not injure him.

The battle began as the soldiers approached the compound in Kandahar’s Zhari district and called out for its occupants to surrender.

None of the insurgents inside would be taken alive.

WOMAN IN SUICIDE VEST

The first to die was an Afghan woman walking out of the compound wearing a suicide vest.

She detonated the explosive, killing herself, wounding six troops and setting off a second blast nearby. Two soldiers rushing to help troops wounded in the first blast hit the third bomb. A second enemy fighter died in those early blasts, too.

An Afghan insurgent who ran away from the building detonated the fourth explosive, another suicide vest. The bomb killed him and a military working dog named Jani.

Moreno heard a call from a staff sergeant to help a wounded soldier. At the same time, the battle’s ground commander told all of the soldiers to stay where they were.

Her Bronze Star commendation uses dry, formal military language to describe the decision she faced.

"Disregarding her own well-being," it reads, "Moreno unhesitatingly moved to assist (the soldiers) upon realizing the severity of the wounds sustained by her fellow teammates."

"While in transit, Moreno detonated Device No. 5 and was killed in action."

Few could make the same choice.

"None of us would have done what you did, running into hell to save your wounded brothers, knowing full well you probably wouldn’t make it back," the commander of Moreno’s female Special Operations support team in Afghanistan, Capt. Amanda King, later wrote in a eulogy.

'FOLLOW ME'

The battle did not end with Moreno’s sacrifice.

"Follow me," Hawkins told Patterson as they made their move to reach the wounded.

Patterson stepped on a mine, the sixth detonation. He stumbled and hit the seventh, delivering fatal wounds to both him and Hawkins.

Peters, the military police officer, set off explosions No. 8 and No. 9 after working to clear a helicopter landing zone for medical evacuations.

Crockett arrived with a 20-soldier force dispatched to clear the area of mines and rescue the wounded. He was trained for the job as a soldier in a North Carolina-based explosives command.

He cleared space for medics to work on casualties and made his way to isolated Rangers, escorting them through the mine belt to safety. He managed to retrieve Hawkins, the fallen military dog and various pieces of sensitive military equipment without detonating more bombs.

"His focus on retrieving teammates from stranded positions ultimately preserved their lives," his Silver Star commendation reads.

11TH EXPLOSIVE

Moreno’s body remained on the field.

Three soldiers from Crockett’s unit tried to retrieve her, but struck the 11th explosive.

Crockett ran to them, halting at the edge of his cleared path.

He saw his platoon sergeant injured but standing. Crockett guided him back to safe ground.

With no clear path to his two newly wounded teammates, Crockett got down to the ground and swept the earth for mines with his own hands.

He reached a private first class who lost his right leg to the bomb. Crockett applied a tourniquet and “single-handedly dragged him to an area where medics could safely render treatment.”

There was one more injured teammate left to recover from the 11th explosion. Crockett set off the final blast as he stepped to the wounded sergeant.

It didn’t kill him, so he continued with the rescue. He chose a different path, again swept the ground with his hands, and brought his teammate back to safety.

Still, Moreno’s body remained where she fell.

Crockett got as close as he could to the fallen nurse, attached a drag line to her and pulled her to the safe area.

With Moreno recovered, the operators made the call to leave the compound.

Finally, they got out of hell. They did not leave one of their own behind.

Read this.

(via taco-man-andre)

US Army Sergeant First Class Matthew I. Leggett. 20 AUG 2014.

Died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered during an enemy attack. Leggett was assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

US Army Sergeant First Class Samuel C. Hairston. 12 AUG 2014.

Died in Ghazni, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when his unit was engaged by enemy small-arms fire. Hairston was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

US Army Major General Harold J. Greene. 5 AUG 2014.

Died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire. Greene was assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command, Afghanistan. This incident remains under investigation.

Green on Blue incident strikes high and hard.

(Article by Claudette Roulo, DoD News, Defense Media Activity. 5 AUG 2014. Source.)

An American 2-star general was killed today in Kabul, Afghanistan, when an individual believed to be a member of the Afghan security forces fired into a group of coalition troops, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters.

The coalition troops were on a routine site visit to the Marshal Fahim National Defense University, the Afghan army’s commissioned and noncommissioned officer academy, Kirby said during a news briefing today.

"There are a number of casualties as a result of the shooting, perhaps up to 15, to include some Americans," he said. "Many were seriously wounded. Others received only minor injuries. The assailant was killed."

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel extends his heartfelt condolences to the family of the fallen general on behalf of the men and women of the department, Kirby said.

The family notification process is not yet complete, the admiral said, and no further information will be released until that process finishes.

"I’m sure you can understand that we want to respect the notification process and the family’s privacy at this time," he said.

Hagel received an update on the incident this morning from Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the International Security Assistance Force commander, Kirby said.

"And he pledged to General Dunford whatever support he and this department could provide with respect to the investigation," he added.

"The incident will be jointly investigated by Afghan and ISAF authorities," Kirby said. "That investigation is just now getting underway. We need to let it proceed before speculating about any specific circumstances."

US Army Private First Class Keith M. Williams. 24 JUL 2014.

Died in Mirugol Kalay, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Williams was assigned 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

US Army Staff Sergeant Benjamin G. Prange. 24 JUL 2014.

Died in Mirugol Kalay, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the enemy attacked their vehicle with an improvised explosive device. Prange was assigned 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

Brother shielding brother, even in death.
Sgt. Ryan Pitts holds a bracelet he wears that commemorates the late Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, former platoon sergeant of 2nd platoon, which is taped over another bracelet (not visible) that commemorates the fallen of 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, who were killed Nov. 9, 2007, in an ambush. Commemorated on the second bracelet are: Capt. Matthew Ferrara, Spc. Joseph Lancour, Cpl. Lester Roque, Cpl. Sean Langevin and Sgt. Jeffrey Mersman. This bracelet prevented shrapnel from penetrating Pitts’ wrist. High-res

Brother shielding brother, even in death.

Sgt. Ryan Pitts holds a bracelet he wears that commemorates the late Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler, former platoon sergeant of 2nd platoon, which is taped over another bracelet (not visible) that commemorates the fallen of 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, who were killed Nov. 9, 2007, in an ambush. Commemorated on the second bracelet are: Capt. Matthew Ferrara, Spc. Joseph Lancour, Cpl. Lester Roque, Cpl. Sean Langevin and Sgt. Jeffrey Mersman. This bracelet prevented shrapnel from penetrating Pitts’ wrist.

Staff Sergeant Ryan M. Pitts Corporal Pruitt A. Rainey, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Corporal Gunnar Zwilling, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Corporal Matthew Phillips, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Corporal Jonathan R. Ayers, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Specialist Sergio S. Abad, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Corporal Jason M. Bogar, KIA 13 JUL 2008. First Lieutenant Jonathan P. Brostrom, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Corporal Jason D. Hovater, KIA 13 JUL 2008. Sergeant Israel Garcia, KIA 13 JUL 2008.

Brothers to the last.

(Courtesy photos and official Medal of Honor narrative via DVIDS.)

On July 8, 2008, elements of Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade; Army engineers; Marine Corps Embedded Training Team mentors; and Afghan National Army conducted Operation “Rock Move,” in the Waygal Valley of northeastern Afghanistan.

The operation was aimed at repositioning forces from Combat Outpost Bella to the outskirts of a village called Wanat, in order to disrupt militant trafficking in the Waygal Valley, and to set the stage for effective economic and security development in the region.

This was the third and final move southward for Chosen Company, the final mission of their 14-month deployment. Over the course of 2007-2008, Chosen Company engaged in persistent combat with the enemy as the unit responsible for security in the volatile Waygal Valley region. For then-Sgt. Ryan Pitts and his teammates, Operation Rock Move meant the end of a long deployment was in sight.

Several factors prompted the decision to close COP Bella. Bella was located 16 kilometers from the nearest base, which was Forward Operating Base Blessing to the south, and relied solely on helicopter support for supplies and reinforcements. The small village of Wanat was halfway between Bella and FOB Blessing, at about 8 kilometers from FOB Blessing, which housed the company’s quick reaction force as well as the tactical operations center. Also, an improved road network made Wanat accessible to ground vehicles.

COP Bella was originally positioned to disrupt militant traffic, but its impact dwindled as Anti-Afghan Forces left the area or established alternate resupply routes. Additionally, the sparse development opportunities near Bella were further limited by a pervasive lack of cooperation from the traditional village leaders nearby.

Repositioning to Wanat would allow coalition forces to better interdict militant traffic, and lay the foundation for local economic and security improvements, a key component of counter-insurgency strategy. Wanat was the site of a new district government center and a new police station. Co-locating coalition forces in Wanat would foster relationships with the local government officials and improve goodwill with the local population, building on positive relationships from a bridge construction project completed in Wanat, in 2006.

After Army leaders announced the pending closure of COP Bella in June 2008, coalition forces began to receive reports of large enemy forces massing in the Waygal valley, who planned to attack COP Bella as forces withdrew. The reports were reinforced by several harassment attacks on COP Bella throughout mid-June and into early July. The final two attacks on Bella, on July 3-4, 2008, resulted in American and militant casualties, as well as allegations of Afghan civilian causalities.

Prior to the start of Operation Rock Move, theater-level engineering elements and Chosen Company leadership had visited Wanat to develop a base defense plan, which included an interior and exterior wall, a formal entrance control point, and guard towers. Civilian equipment operators were scheduled to arrive six days after 2nd platoon’s arrival to Wanat, to build these and other permanent structures. To bolster defenses until then, 2nd platoon was reinforced with an engineer squad using a Bobcat front-end loader, a six-man mortar section using a 120 mm mortar and a 60 mm mortar, four M114 armored Humvees, and a TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided) anti-armor missile system, among other assets.

Under the cover of darkness July 8-9, Chosen Company airlifted 1st platoon out of COP Bella, and 2nd platoon left FOB Blessing to begin setting up the new vehicle patrol base, known as a VPB, at Wanat. Chosen Company’s 2nd platoon nicknamed the new post VPB Kahler, in honor of their former platoon sergeant and slain comrade, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Kahler. Once at VPB Kahler, 2nd platoon, along with an attached engineer squad and 6-man mortar team, established a perimeter and began securing the base.
VPB Kahler was established in an open area and was roughly the size of a football field, aligned lengthwise from north to south. The open area lay southwest and adjacent to the village of Wanat, with the Waygal River forming its rough western border, and the road running from FOB Blessing to Wanat forming the eastern border.

On the northwest side of the VPB stood a large blue-roofed building surrounded by a high stone wall. Next, moving in a clockwise direction, a one-story mosque, a hotel/café complex, and a bazaar (marketplace) ringed the VPB.

Upon arriving, 2nd Platoon placed Observation Post “Topside,” on a ridge to the east of the main base, and east of the bazaar and hotel complex. The ridge was high enough to block visibility from the VPB to the low ground in the northeast and southeast. Therefore, OP Topside was placed on the high ground to give 2nd platoon visibility of the terrain to the northeast and east, which might serve as an enemy avenue of approach into Wanat. OP Topside’s location also provided visibility of two bridges just north of the town, and its close proximity to the VPB ensured it could be reinforced in the event of enemy contact.

One challenge of the placement of OP Topside was that it had no direct lines of sight to the north, where the ground fell away into a tree-filled ravine ten yards past the OP. The ravine contained a small offshoot of the Wayskawdi Creek. The creek curved along the north, northeast, and east of the ridge. Thus, the OP site had considerable dead space, which is an area that could not be seen. Any enemy in this dead space could enter the hotel complex undetected. To mitigate this risk, Chosen Company developed pre-planned indirect fire support targets in the dead space that could be engaged if needed.

On July 13, 2008, 2nd Platoon conducted stand-to at 4 a.m. local time. Stand-to consists of placing personnel at their defensive positions in preparation for enemy attack, at the most likely time of attack – just before dawn. Sgt. Pitts, the forward observer, was positioned at Topside with a team of eight other paratroopers. Also assigned to Topside were: Spc. Jonathan Ayers, Spc. Jason Bogar, Sgt. Matthew Gobble, Pfc. Chris McKaig, Spc. Matthew Phillips, Spc. Pruitt Rainey, Spc. Tyler Stafford, and Spc. Gunnar Zwilling.

Shortly after stand-to, Soldiers conducting surveillance with the thermal imaging sights on a TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided) anti-armor missile system, which was located inside the main vehicle patrol base perimeter, identified potential insurgents on the western high ground above Wanat. Pitts and Gobble, located in the center of the observation post, began putting together a request for indirect fire in response. Rainey, Ayers, and McKaig were located in the eastern position, referred to as the crow’s nest. Stafford and Bogar were in the southern position, and Phillips and Zwilling were located in the northern position.

Before they could complete the call for fire, at approximately 4:20 a.m., the paratroopers heard a burst of machine-gun fire coming from the direction of a two-story building located on a terraced hill to the north. Then the valley erupted in enemy fire. An estimated 200 enemy fighters launched a full-scale assault, focusing their fires on the base’s key defensive weapons systems and positions: VPB mortar-firing position, the vehicle with the TOW missile system, and OP Topside. The insurgents had infiltrated Wanat, setting up firing positions and weapons caches in the town’s bazaar, hotel complex, homes, and mosque.

The paratroopers at OP Topside were simultaneously hit with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, and hand grenades thrown at close range by insurgents concealed in the draw to the north of the observation post. All of the paratroopers at OP Topside were wounded, and two were killed, by the first volley of fire. Pitts was wounded by grenade shrapnel in both legs and his left arm.

After the initial blast, Pitts found himself thrown toward the northern position of the observation post. Stunned by the blast, he crawled to the southern end of the observation post, where he found Bogar. Seeing Pitts’ leg wound, Bogar applied a tourniquet to Pitts’ right leg. Meanwhile, Stafford informed them that Phillips and Zwilling had both been killed by hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades in the initial volley of fire.

Realizing the enemy was in hand-grenade range, Pitts returned to the northern position, where the grenades were stored. Despite the risk of running into a short fuse, Pitts started “cooking off” grenades, letting them burn for several seconds before he threw them into the draw just beyond the observation post perimeter to the north. This tactic prevented enemy forces from throwing the grenades back at the observation post, before they detonated. By using this tactic, Pitts put himself at risk, but ensured the blasts were concentrated toward the enemy. Between deploying hand grenades, Pitts called in a situation report to the company commander, Capt. Matthew Myer. He informed Myer of the casualties and estimated enemy locations.

Pitts decided to fire the M240-B machine-gun in the northern position of OP Topside, in an effort to conserve hand grenades. Unable to stand because of his injuries, Pitts blind-fired over the wall of waist-high sandbags with the machine gun to provide momentary cover, then propped himself up on his knees to fire over the wall. Without another paratrooper in the northern position to act as assistant gunner, Pitts repeatedly fired until the gun jammed, then cleared the malfunction, and loaded more ammunition from the bag beneath the gun.

Within minutes, as the remaining paratroopers at OP Topside fought for their lives, the enemy forces had destroyed the TOW system and injured the personnel manning the 120 mm mortar firing pit, setting the pit that held it ablaze. Myer, attempting to control the battle from the center of the vehicle patrol base, was desperate to get additional firepower to support the paratroopers at OP Topside. Pitts was the only contact between the command post and the OP, and the only person left capable of controlling indirect fire support. While firing the machine gun in the northern position, Pitts maintained contact with Myer on the radio, directing artillery fires from FOB Blessing onto the pre-planned targets around the OP.

At approximately 4:45 a.m., 1st Lt. Jonathan P. Brostrom and Spc. Jason Hovater maneuvered from the VPB main perimeter, through direct enemy fire coming from the hotel, to reinforce the paratroopers under direct attack at the OP. Pitts gave Brostrom a situation report and described the locations of the enemy, before surrendering the machine gun to Spc. Rainey and exchanging it for an M4 with a mounted M-203 grenade launcher. While Brostrom, Hovater, Bogar, and Rainey re-established the OP’s defensive position, Pitts manned the radio and continued to call in requests for indirect fire to Myer.

Suddenly, Pitts realized he could no longer hear other fires coming from within the OP. Realizing he was probably alone, and not wanting to reveal his position to the enemy, Pitts crawled silently from his position to the southernmost edge of the perimeter, checking to see if anyone was still alive. He discovered that McKaig, Stafford, Gobble, Brostrom, Rainey, Bogar, and Hovater were gone. All the paratroopers still with him in the OP were dead. Pitts later learned that Stafford and Gobble had moved to the casualty collection point at the traffic-control point, referred to as the TCP CCP, while McKaig maneuvered to the VPB for ammunition. The reinforcing troops, Bogar, and Rainey had been killed while setting up a defensive perimeter on the northwest side of the OP.

Alone and losing blood, Pitts radioed Myer to inform him that everyone at the OP was deceased or gone. Pitts was informed that reinforcements for the OP were not available. At this point, the insurgents were in such close proximity to Pitts, that Soldiers at the command post and those listening in on the channel could hear enemy voices through the radio. In that moment, Pitts resigned himself to certain death, but remained determined to do as much damage as possible to the enemy before they overwhelmed the OP.

Taking up the M-203 grenade launcher, Pitts began firing it almost directly overhead, straight up, placing grenades that would detonate just on the other side of the perimeter, where the insurgents had concealed themselves in the draw. Pitts also called on the radio for any Soldier with a sightline to the OP to begin firing over the sandbag wall at his position, to knock the enemy back if they breached the wall. Sgt. Brian Hissong at the TCP CCP answered the call, and began laying down fire directly over Pitts.

Then, four Soldiers – Staff Sgt. Sean Samaroo, Sgt. Israel Garcia, Spc. Michael Denton, and Spc. Jacob Sones – maneuvered from the TCP CCP to reinforce OP Topside. They found Pitts fighting for his life. Sones was initially able to treat Pitts, before another round of explosions rocked the OP, mortally wounding Garcia. While the other Soldiers attempted to secure the OP’s perimeter despite their injuries, Pitts crawled to Garcia and comforted him. Samaroo, Denton and Sones then pulled Garcia out of the open, to the OP’s casualty collection point at the southern position.

Soon after, attack helicopters arrived to provide close air support. Despite being nearly unconscious, Pitts continued to communicate with headquarters, providing needed feedback to Myer as he called in the first helicopter attack run to engage the insurgents to the north of the OP. This strike, only 30 meters from the friendly troops at OP Topside, took the pressure off the Soldiers at the main base enough so that a third group of reinforcements from the VPB could scale the terraces and secure the OP. Meanwhile, reinforcements from FOB Blessing arrived and began clearing enemy positions within the town and adjacent hillsides.

At approximately 6:15 a.m., after fighting for more than an hour while critically wounded, Pitts was medically evacuated along with Samaroo, Sones, and Denton. His actions allowed U.S. forces time to reinforce the OP and bring-in airstrikes which turned the tide of the battle.

If not for his ability to be the commanders’ eyes and ears in his critically wounded state, the enemy would have gained a foothold on high ground and inflicted significantly greater causalities onto the main vehicle patrol base, and the enemy could have been in possession of seven fallen Americans.

The remaining 2nd Platoon Soldiers and 1st Platoons reinforcements continued to fight-off the scores of Anti-Afghan Forces for several more hours. The OP and VPB Kahler-main were secured.

A few days later, Chosen Company left the village of Wanat – it was clear to Task Force Rock leaders – the same elders who welcomed them had betrayed them. The situation in Wanat had changed.