Showing 1262 posts tagged US Army

US Army Major Michael J. Donahue. 16 SEP 2014.

Died in Kabul, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered in a vehicle-born IED (VBIED) attack. Donahue was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Also killed in the attack was DOD civilian contractor Stephen Byus of the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime in Columbus, Ohio, working as a supply specialist assigned to the Combined Security Transition Command Afghanistan.

US Army Ranger School seeks female candidates.
A ranger instructor explains to company of rangers the technical instructions of rappelling from the 50 ft rock to his left in Dahlonega, Georgia. There are three phases in ranger training which include the Benning Phase in Fort Benning Georgia, Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, Georgia, and the Florida Phase at Camp James E. Rudder. (Photo by Master Sergeant Cecilio Ricardo, 12 APR 2009.)
(Article by Adam Ashton, 15 SEP 2014, via Yakima Herald.)
TACOMA, Wash. — After 32 rejections, Lt. Della Smith-Del Rosario might finally get permission to attend the Army’s grueling Ranger School.
She’s been trying to get into the school — one of the military’s most intense proving grounds — for years, but she’s been blocked by a policy barring women from attending the two-month Ranger training course at Georgia’s Fort Benning.
Friday, the Army announced that it’s seeking female candidates for the spring 2015 Ranger School course. By January, the Army will announce whether it will admit female soldiers to the program.
It’s a milestone in the Army’s integration of women into more front-line combat positions that some hope will lead to female soldiers gaining more opportunities to serve in elite Special Operations units, such as the Army Rangers.
“I want the opportunity to bring what I have to offer to the Rangers,” said Smith-Del Rosario, a military intelligence officer on assignment in Kuwait.
Friday’s announcement follows a January 2013 decision to open traditionally all-male military positions to women unless officials present a compelling reason to prohibit female troops from a particular assignment.
Since then, the Army has opened six career specialties and 55,000 positions to women, according to an Army “stand to” message to troops about the pending Ranger School decision. Infantry and front-line positions in Special Operations remain all male, for the time being.
The Army is gauging interest in combat postings among its female solders through a survey carried out last year by its Training and Doctrine Command.
About 20 percent of female respondents indicated moderate or high interest in serving in combat assignments, such as infantry or special operations. About 8 percent reported having a high interest in those fields.
“The Army’s goal is to better (manage) the talent, competence and performance of all soldiers, ensuring they have the opportunities to maximize their potential, capabilities and contributions,” the “stand to” message said.
But the possibility of assigning women to Special Operations teams has been one of the most hotly debated aspects of the Pentagon’s gender-integration plan even as female soldiers have been taking on new responsibilities in combat units.
Most often, critics voice concerns that female troops will not be able to meet the physical demands of prolonged combat with Special Forces teams. The most physically demanding military training course open to women is the Marine Infantry Officer Candidate School. As of March, 14 women had attempted the course since the fall of 2012, but none had passed, according to The Washington Post.
“In my opinion, it is a waste of time and my money to send women to Ranger School,” said LeRoy Graw, a retired lieutenant colonel who served during the Gulf War. Graw of Lakewood completed Ranger School in 1964 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. He does not believe women belong in the infantry, especially not as officers, and so he thinks Ranger School would be a waste of the Army’s resources.
Others cite fears that gender integration could disrupt the unity of small 12-soldier teams in dangerous places if restrictions are lifted on women serving in Special Operations teams.
Supporters counter that a woman soldier one day will break the mold, and she should not be held back.
“As of today, no one has been able to produce convincing, or even thought-provoking hard evidence that would ban soldiers and Marines with two X chromosomes from the infantry,” wrote Shelly Goode-Burgoyne, a former Army officer, in a Sept. 10 blog post. She’s eager to see a woman succeed at Ranger School.
Ranger School is a mandatory precursor to postings in the Army’s prestigious 75th Ranger Regiment. It’s also springboard to promotions in other units. It peaks with an extended mission in Florida swampland in which candidates work together in small combat operations while veteran Rangers stress them.
Soldiers who pass the demanding program are considered “Ranger qualified.” They wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, which stands out as a symbol of having accomplished one of the Army most severe training courses.
If a woman soldier is selected, she’ll have to take a pregnancy test, according to the Army order inviting female candidates to apply for the school. She’ll also have to demonstrate that she can do 49 pushups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes. She’ll also have to finish a 12-mile march in less than three hours.
“If a female thinks she’s physically strong enough to get through the school to get the tab, she should be able to go,” said Staff Sgt. Marscha Boydston, a supply specialist in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.
Boydston, 39, is married to a Special Operations soldier. She said she wouldn’t pursue a Ranger tab, but she’d think highly of woman who was willing to attempt the course.
In recent years, women have been gaining new footholds in the military’s Special Operations community. Thousands of women serve in units that support and supply Special Operations teams.
Many more have served alongside Special Operations teams in Afghanistan on so-called female engagement teams. They accompany all-male teams of special operators and work to gather intelligence that men could not by obtain by speaking with women in a traditional Muslim society.
“I jumped on the opportunity because empowerment for women is a big deal for every woman,” said Smith-Del Rosario, who served on a female engagement team in Afghanistan four years ago. “There’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.”
Several female soldiers have been killed in action while serving on those dangerous missions with special operators.
One was Lt. Ashley White, who was killed with two Rangers from JBLM, on a mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province on Oct. 22, 2011. Another was Capt. Jennifer Moreno, a nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center, who died with three solders on another Ranger-led mission in Kandahar on Oct. 5, 2013.
Smith-Del Rosario, who joined the Army in 1999 as an enlisted soldier from Overland Park, Kan., said she submits an application to Ranger School every month. She gets letters of support from her commanders, including a colonel who led a brigade.
Inevitably, her requests come back denied.
“They were like, ‘Oh, you’re a female.’”
She’s in Kuwait on a joint-forces team monitoring events in Iraq. She’s on track to attend an Army leadership course and then move on to a posting in South Korea.
She’d gladly take a detour to prove herself at Ranger School.
“In any team, everyone must earn their way; I will earn my tab if given the opportunity,” she said.
High-res

US Army Ranger School seeks female candidates.

A ranger instructor explains to company of rangers the technical instructions of rappelling from the 50 ft rock to his left in Dahlonega, Georgia. There are three phases in ranger training which include the Benning Phase in Fort Benning Georgia, Mountain Phase in Dahlonega, Georgia, and the Florida Phase at Camp James E. Rudder. (Photo by Master Sergeant Cecilio Ricardo, 12 APR 2009.)

(Article by Adam Ashton, 15 SEP 2014, via Yakima Herald.)

TACOMA, Wash. — After 32 rejections, Lt. Della Smith-Del Rosario might finally get permission to attend the Army’s grueling Ranger School.

She’s been trying to get into the school — one of the military’s most intense proving grounds — for years, but she’s been blocked by a policy barring women from attending the two-month Ranger training course at Georgia’s Fort Benning.

Friday, the Army announced that it’s seeking female candidates for the spring 2015 Ranger School course. By January, the Army will announce whether it will admit female soldiers to the program.

It’s a milestone in the Army’s integration of women into more front-line combat positions that some hope will lead to female soldiers gaining more opportunities to serve in elite Special Operations units, such as the Army Rangers.

“I want the opportunity to bring what I have to offer to the Rangers,” said Smith-Del Rosario, a military intelligence officer on assignment in Kuwait.

Friday’s announcement follows a January 2013 decision to open traditionally all-male military positions to women unless officials present a compelling reason to prohibit female troops from a particular assignment.

Since then, the Army has opened six career specialties and 55,000 positions to women, according to an Army “stand to” message to troops about the pending Ranger School decision. Infantry and front-line positions in Special Operations remain all male, for the time being.

The Army is gauging interest in combat postings among its female solders through a survey carried out last year by its Training and Doctrine Command.

About 20 percent of female respondents indicated moderate or high interest in serving in combat assignments, such as infantry or special operations. About 8 percent reported having a high interest in those fields.

“The Army’s goal is to better (manage) the talent, competence and performance of all soldiers, ensuring they have the opportunities to maximize their potential, capabilities and contributions,” the “stand to” message said.

But the possibility of assigning women to Special Operations teams has been one of the most hotly debated aspects of the Pentagon’s gender-integration plan even as female soldiers have been taking on new responsibilities in combat units.

Most often, critics voice concerns that female troops will not be able to meet the physical demands of prolonged combat with Special Forces teams. The most physically demanding military training course open to women is the Marine Infantry Officer Candidate School. As of March, 14 women had attempted the course since the fall of 2012, but none had passed, according to The Washington Post.

“In my opinion, it is a waste of time and my money to send women to Ranger School,” said LeRoy Graw, a retired lieutenant colonel who served during the Gulf War. Graw of Lakewood completed Ranger School in 1964 after graduating from the U.S. Military Academy. He does not believe women belong in the infantry, especially not as officers, and so he thinks Ranger School would be a waste of the Army’s resources.

Others cite fears that gender integration could disrupt the unity of small 12-soldier teams in dangerous places if restrictions are lifted on women serving in Special Operations teams.

Supporters counter that a woman soldier one day will break the mold, and she should not be held back.

“As of today, no one has been able to produce convincing, or even thought-provoking hard evidence that would ban soldiers and Marines with two X chromosomes from the infantry,” wrote Shelly Goode-Burgoyne, a former Army officer, in a Sept. 10 blog post. She’s eager to see a woman succeed at Ranger School.

Ranger School is a mandatory precursor to postings in the Army’s prestigious 75th Ranger Regiment. It’s also springboard to promotions in other units. It peaks with an extended mission in Florida swampland in which candidates work together in small combat operations while veteran Rangers stress them.

Soldiers who pass the demanding program are considered “Ranger qualified.” They wear a Ranger tab on their uniforms, which stands out as a symbol of having accomplished one of the Army most severe training courses.

If a woman soldier is selected, she’ll have to take a pregnancy test, according to the Army order inviting female candidates to apply for the school. She’ll also have to demonstrate that she can do 49 pushups, 59 sit-ups, six chin-ups and complete a five-mile run in 40 minutes. She’ll also have to finish a 12-mile march in less than three hours.

“If a female thinks she’s physically strong enough to get through the school to get the tab, she should be able to go,” said Staff Sgt. Marscha Boydston, a supply specialist in Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s I Corps.

Boydston, 39, is married to a Special Operations soldier. She said she wouldn’t pursue a Ranger tab, but she’d think highly of woman who was willing to attempt the course.

In recent years, women have been gaining new footholds in the military’s Special Operations community. Thousands of women serve in units that support and supply Special Operations teams.

Many more have served alongside Special Operations teams in Afghanistan on so-called female engagement teams. They accompany all-male teams of special operators and work to gather intelligence that men could not by obtain by speaking with women in a traditional Muslim society.

“I jumped on the opportunity because empowerment for women is a big deal for every woman,” said Smith-Del Rosario, who served on a female engagement team in Afghanistan four years ago. “There’s a special place in hell for women that don’t help other women.”

Several female soldiers have been killed in action while serving on those dangerous missions with special operators.

One was Lt. Ashley White, who was killed with two Rangers from JBLM, on a mission in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province on Oct. 22, 2011. Another was Capt. Jennifer Moreno, a nurse from Madigan Army Medical Center, who died with three solders on another Ranger-led mission in Kandahar on Oct. 5, 2013.

Smith-Del Rosario, who joined the Army in 1999 as an enlisted soldier from Overland Park, Kan., said she submits an application to Ranger School every month. She gets letters of support from her commanders, including a colonel who led a brigade.

Inevitably, her requests come back denied.

“They were like, ‘Oh, you’re a female.’”

She’s in Kuwait on a joint-forces team monitoring events in Iraq. She’s on track to attend an Army leadership course and then move on to a posting in South Korea.

She’d gladly take a detour to prove herself at Ranger School.

“In any team, everyone must earn their way; I will earn my tab if given the opportunity,” she said.

soldierporn:

Night jump.
U.S. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division conduct parachute assault operations at Holland Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, N.C., during Joint Operations Access Exercise 12-02.
(Photo by Tech Sergeant Edward Gyokeres, 6 JUN 2012.)
High-res

soldierporn:

Night jump.

U.S. Army paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division conduct parachute assault operations at Holland Drop Zone, Fort Bragg, N.C., during Joint Operations Access Exercise 12-02.

(Photo by Tech Sergeant Edward Gyokeres, 6 JUN 2012.)

US Army Specialist Brian K. Arsenault. 4 SEP 2014.

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

Because a dose of bacon does a body good.

Soldiers of the 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, U.S. Army Alaska, monitor a live fire while training with U.S. Air Force Air National Guard Joint Terminal Attack Controllers at Yukon Training Area, Alaska, to hone joint interoperability and close air support capabilities in a high operations tempo simulated combat environment during the Red Flag-Alaska 14-3 exercise.

Joint Terminal Attack Controllers deploy with Army units, bringing to the fight an ability to quickly and accurately call close air support to engage enemy targets on the ground. Red Flag-Alaska, a series of Pacific Air Forces commander-directed field training exercises for U.S. forces, provides joint offensive counter-air, interdiction, close air support, and large force employment training in a simulated combat environment.

(Video by Senior Airman Ross Whitley, 20 AUG 2014.)

[And because the hogs were out playing yesterday and I missed them. Again. -R]

Healing through humor.
(Article by Pablo Villa, NCO Journal, 26 AUG 2014. Source, via OEW on Facebook.)
There’s something striking about Bobby Henline.
No, it’s not the roughly depilated head or the craggy striations seared into the former staff sergeant’s face, the result of a 2007 roadside bomb attack in Iraq that struck the humvee he was riding in. Henline was the only one of the vehicle’s five occupants to survive the blast. More than 38 percent of his body was burned. His head was scorched to the skull. His left hand was so badly singed it would eventually be amputated. Despite 46 surgeries and six months of rehabilitation, Henline’s likeness was permanently altered.
But that’s not what sticks out about him.
What is most palpable about Henline, a San Jose, Calif., native, is his affable demeanor. He speaks with a quick hop-step cadence, punctuated often with a hearty laugh. The rhythm crescendos when he talks about his family, his fellow Soldiers, his friends or the thing that he says has helped him keep going after suffering such a harrowing ordeal — humor.
Today, Henline is a stand-up comedian. In fact, he is one of the industry’s budding talents, having performed in some of comedy’s meccas such as The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and appearing in the Showtime documentary, “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor.”
Henline says he turned to comedy as a coping mechanism — his days vocally directing Soldiers as an NCO helped him summon the courage to take the stage for the first time. It ended up renewing his zeal for life. And he hopes sharing his story can help other injured — and sometimes disfigured — Soldiers face their lives with the same exuberance.
“I didn’t think I’d get a job out of it,” said Henline before a Fourth of July performance at the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase in Houston. “It was fun for me. It was a release. It’s always how I like to deal with stuff, with my humor. So it was good for me. It was just a fun thing to do. And it just started building up and building up. Next thing you know, it’s serious. Comedy got serious.”
‘That’s all I remember that day’
Henline has only a couple vivid memories of the day his life changed.
It was April 7, 2007, and Henline was part of a convoy that was making stops at various forward operating bases, or FOBs, delivering supplies and transporting Soldiers north of Baghdad, Iraq. He was a part of the 82nd Airborne Division and was weeks into his fourth deployment.
“We were doing the typical, ‘Get the convoy ready,’ that morning,” he said. “There are two things I remember from that day. One was that there were two Soldiers in the vehicle who normally didn’t ride with me. I also remember getting a second cup of coffee. The S-4 captain, who was sitting behind me, he wasn’t there yet. So we were sitting around waiting, and I ran and grabbed another cup of coffee while we were waiting on him.
“That’s all I remember that day.”
Henline’s vehicle was at the front of the convoy traveling near the Diyala province village of Zaganiyah when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath it. The blast hurled the humvee nearly 50 feet down the road. Four Soldiers — Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh, Spc. Ebe Emolo, Spc. Levi Hoover and Pfc. Rodney McCandless — were killed instantly. When fellow Soldiers reached the vehicle, they had to smother the flames burning Henline’s upper body and dig the broken teeth out of his mouth to allow him to breathe.
Humor amid hardship
Two weeks later, Henline emerged from a medically induced coma at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, thus beginning a medical odyssey that would provide many painful moments, both physically and emotionally.
But one thing came easy to him — humor.
“I started joking around, even in intensive care, in the first month,” Henline said. “A lot of that I don’t remember. But I do remember one day they were walking me and I was mad because they wouldn’t give me water. And I wanted water. So I was walking around the nurses’ desk and I told them, ‘When I get out of here, we’re having a water party. Squirt guns, balloons. No alcohol allowed. Just water.’ I think that was the first time I really started joking around with people.”
Henline says laughter helped keep spirits high for him and the medical personnel working with him. It also helped his wife, Connie, and the rest of his family cope with their loved one’s ordeal and changed appearance.
“Joking around at the hospital, that was my way of using my sense of humor to let my family know I was OK, to let staff know I was OK,” he said. “It was how [I chose] to deal with the pain during physical therapy, laughing about it, joking with the other patients. I could see my family worrying. My mom couldn’t even get me a drink. She was shaking just trying to put the straw to my mouth, real scared. So it was kind of like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m still here. Even if today I’m kind of groggy.’ I’d still make a little joke to let them know, ‘It’s OK. I’m inside here. I just can’t move right now.’
“I think when I was talking a lot better and able to sit up and stuff, that’s when they were finally like, ‘OK, he’s still in there. He’s back. He’s still being that goofball.’”
From surgery to the stage
Henline spent almost the next two years working to regain a sense of normalcy.
His face was scarred by the burns he suffered and puffed by various skin-graft surgeries. His left ear was gone; his right was reduced to a rough-hewn stub. His smashed left hand eventually became too painful to bear, and he asked doctors to amputate it. After removing the protective goggles he was forced to wear for a year, it took time to get accustomed to the stares.
While jokes helped, Henline couldn’t shake the notion that he needed to heed a call. He just didn’t know what it was. Then his occupational therapist made a “stupid” suggestion.
“One day she told me, ‘You should try stand-up comedy!’” Henline said. “She has this really high-pitched voice, one of those happy people all the time. ‘You’ve gotta try stand-up comedy. You’ve gotta try it!’ I’m like ‘That’s stupid. It’s not gonna work. This, here at the hospital, is funny. We could joke about it here.’ I wasn’t gonna go up on stage and people are gonna go, ‘Oh, you got blown up in Iraq? That’s funny.’”
Henline said he grew up admiring comedians such as George Carlin, Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. But he never considered actually taking a stage. However, after a steady stream of good-natured pestering from his therapist, he obliged, sealing the deal with a pinkie swear.
“My occupational therapist’s sister lives in L.A., and she’s in a band,” Henline said. “So one day, I’m going out there for a consultation to see a doctor. She tells me, ‘My sister’s in entertainment. She might know a place you could try it while you’re out there.’ Sure enough, her sister calls me and says, ‘Hey. Comedy Store. Go sign up at 5 o’clock.’”
Henline’s very first set took place August 2009 at the famed Los Angeles club on the same stage graced by some of comedy’s biggest names.
“It went horrible,” Henline remembers. “My joke I still do today about being a rare birth defect was the first joke I really wrote. No one laughed. But I tag it with, ‘And now my mom thinks she has the right to complain to me about her acid reflux.’ I didn’t think that was the joke. I thought the joke that my mom was in the circus as a fire-eater was the funny part. But they related to the acid reflux better. So I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really the punch line.’ When I got off stage, another comic said to me, ‘I really liked the part about the acid reflux.’ That gave me a little hint, like ‘OK, maybe I can write a joke.’”
And so, Henline returned to San Antonio, where he still resides to be near the medical facilities he frequents, and began performing open-mic sets three nights a week.
A year-and-a-half later, he was in Los Angeles when a chance meeting with a talent agent landed him an appearance in the Showtime documentary. The film, released in April 2013, follows Henline and four other veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan as they work with comedy A-listers to explore their experiences through the healing power of humor.
Heeding the call
Henline’s brush with some of comedy’s biggest names did well to instill confidence in his work. But it was feedback from fellow wounded veterans that made him realize his newfound profession was something more than a personal outlet.
“Some of the best feedback I’ve heard comes from guys who are out of the military now,” Henline said. “Two guys — burn survivors, [who] I visited in the hospital a long time ago — have said that what I do helps them. It helps them out in public. They both live in the San Antonio area. They both have been called ‘Bobby Henline’ in public — us burnt guys all look alike. They told me not to feel bad when people call me J.R. Martinez (another famed U.S. Army veteran and burn survivor), because they get the same thing, only they’re called Bobby Henline, the comedian. But they said it really helps them. It’s always breaking the ice for people to feel more comfortable coming up and talking to them. They said they like that.
“Once I started seeing that it could make a difference in people’s lives by going on stage and making people laugh about this, it makes it easier for them, too, to approach somebody else when they see someone with a disfigurement. To know that, hey, we want to talk. We’re not dead. We’re the same person. We like to have dinner, have a drink, go to a movie. We have personalities. We’re not all angry about what happened to us. It’s OK to ask.”
Henline has not limited himself to comedy for his outreach efforts. He conducts motivational speaking visits at schools, colleges, companies and churches. He makes himself available to other wounded warriors in San Antonio hospitals and clinics to give them someone to speak with that might better understand their experiences.
Henline also formed the Crosshairs Comedy troupe with other wounded veterans. The group performs at comedy clubs throughout the country, helping each other with their sets as well as with the emotional setbacks caused by their combat experiences.
Henline performed during Fourth of July weekend in Houston with two members of the troupe — Anthony Torino, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and Raul Sanchez, an Army veteran. Both men lauded Henline’s efforts while on stage. Before the show, Torino jokingly lamented nearly receiving credit for one of Henline’s signature jokes.
“We’ve done a lot of shows together, and I used to sit in the back of the audience,” Torino said. “I used to work with people who were burnt [when I was] a therapist. I’d watch Bobby’s first sets and I was, like, ‘People aren’t paying attention to him. They’re staring at him.’ And he doesn’t give them a chance to just look. He’s used to it; I’m used to it. But the rest of the crowd is like, ‘Holy heck.’ And so I was, like, give them time to go, ‘Holy heck.’ And I was like, ‘What could he say? — You should see the other guy!’ Because he was in a fight, you know what I mean? And the first time he did it, it went great. Turned out to be perfect.”
But Henline didn’t deliver that opening line until he received the same advice from comedian Brad Garrett, a fact Torino dismisses.
“He wouldn’t listen to me,” Torino said. “But Brad Garrett tells him to do it, and …
“Seriously, Bobby is funny. And all the good things he does for us and other people are just awesome.”
NCO lessons shine through
Henline earned his sergeant stripes in 2004, just before joining the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He says his days as an NCO continue to reverberate throughout his life, both personally and professionally.
“Definitely, being a Soldier helped a lot of things,” Henline said. “Especially becoming an NCO — you’re used to talking to the crowds and giving classes and things like that. Also, being burnt meant wherever I went, I got stared at. It didn’t matter. So I figure if I went up on stage and I stood there and people stared at me, it’d be just like me going to Walmart. There wouldn’t be anything different. The attitude of pulling through and making sure you’re OK and all the training definitely comes into being strong.”
Henline also says he enjoyed his days leading other Soldiers. He credits his time with younger Soldiers as the reason he can enjoy the camaraderie of his fellow troupe comics. They are lessons he feels today’s NCOs can continue to employ.
“Leadership style? I’m definitely a participator,” Henline said. “I delegate if there’s enough people around. But if not, I’m gonna get in there. You don’t want to lose a skill by just sitting there giving orders and demands and make everyone else do it, and then you forget how to do it yourself. I was maybe too soft sometimes when I needed to be a little meaner. But I’d rather talk to them and try to coach them that way. I wanted to learn about the individual, who they are. Because they’re just like your children. You know, ‘Which one handles being yelled at better? Which one learns better being talked to?’ So as you get to know your Soldiers better, you can’t just treat them all exactly the same. Because they’re all different personalities and they respond differently. That goes for leadership in the military, raising kids, teachers in schools. In every type of leadership, you need to know what makes the best team. That’s how you make your team work well together.”
There’s one more thing that drives Henline and keeps him feverishly on the trail of his comedic dreams.
“It’s that same old thing, you’ve gotta drive on,” Henline said. “Survivor’s guilt was really bad for me in the beginning. But you’ve gotta live on for those who don’t live anymore, the guys who sacrificed it all. There were four other guys in that humvee who didn’t make it. I sat on the couch, and I felt sorry for myself. I gave up. But what’s that doing for them? I gotta live on for them. Any of them would trade places with me. They’d rather be in pain and look funny and be here. Their families would rather have them back. That’s a big push for me that helps drive me on.”

Henline highlights: A selection of Bobby Henline’s jokes
“I was burned over 38 percent of my body. Yes, I expect a discount at my cremation.”
“I don’t know if you girls know this, but once you go cooked, you’re hooked.”
“I did four tours in Iraq. I loved my job. I had a great time. But seriously, that last tour was a real blast. … My humvee got blown up by a roadside bomb. The crazy thing is that it took me four tours and an IED just to figure out my lucky number was three.”
“I love messing with people. I love going to CVS or Walgreens. I get a hand basket and fill it up full of scar removal. I just want to see the look on the cashier’s face. … I love Fourth of July. I go to the fireworks stands and say, ‘Just give me the same stuff you gave me last year. It was great!’”
“Over the last six years, I’ve had 46 skin-graft surgeries. I don’t know if you know what that is but, basically, they take good skin from one part of your body to replace the burnt skin in another part. Essentially, they make a skin quilt out of you. They took my stomach and put it on top of my head. Now, I gotta pick lint out of my ears. I get a headache when I eat too much. And that’s not even the worst of it — I’m mooning all of you right now.”
“If my comedy career does take off, I’ll be the first comedian ever to show up to his roast pre-cooked. Comedy Central will have to change the name to ‘Serving Leftovers at Bobby Henline’s Reheating Special.’”
High-res

Healing through humor.

(Article by Pablo Villa, NCO Journal, 26 AUG 2014. Source, via OEW on Facebook.)

There’s something striking about Bobby Henline.

No, it’s not the roughly depilated head or the craggy striations seared into the former staff sergeant’s face, the result of a 2007 roadside bomb attack in Iraq that struck the humvee he was riding in. Henline was the only one of the vehicle’s five occupants to survive the blast. More than 38 percent of his body was burned. His head was scorched to the skull. His left hand was so badly singed it would eventually be amputated. Despite 46 surgeries and six months of rehabilitation, Henline’s likeness was permanently altered.

But that’s not what sticks out about him.

What is most palpable about Henline, a San Jose, Calif., native, is his affable demeanor. He speaks with a quick hop-step cadence, punctuated often with a hearty laugh. The rhythm crescendos when he talks about his family, his fellow Soldiers, his friends or the thing that he says has helped him keep going after suffering such a harrowing ordeal — humor.

Today, Henline is a stand-up comedian. In fact, he is one of the industry’s budding talents, having performed in some of comedy’s meccas such as The Comedy Store in Los Angeles, and appearing in the Showtime documentary, “Comedy Warriors: Healing Through Humor.”

Henline says he turned to comedy as a coping mechanism — his days vocally directing Soldiers as an NCO helped him summon the courage to take the stage for the first time. It ended up renewing his zeal for life. And he hopes sharing his story can help other injured — and sometimes disfigured — Soldiers face their lives with the same exuberance.

“I didn’t think I’d get a job out of it,” said Henline before a Fourth of July performance at the Joke Joint Comedy Showcase in Houston. “It was fun for me. It was a release. It’s always how I like to deal with stuff, with my humor. So it was good for me. It was just a fun thing to do. And it just started building up and building up. Next thing you know, it’s serious. Comedy got serious.”

‘That’s all I remember that day’

Henline has only a couple vivid memories of the day his life changed.

It was April 7, 2007, and Henline was part of a convoy that was making stops at various forward operating bases, or FOBs, delivering supplies and transporting Soldiers north of Baghdad, Iraq. He was a part of the 82nd Airborne Division and was weeks into his fourth deployment.

“We were doing the typical, ‘Get the convoy ready,’ that morning,” he said. “There are two things I remember from that day. One was that there were two Soldiers in the vehicle who normally didn’t ride with me. I also remember getting a second cup of coffee. The S-4 captain, who was sitting behind me, he wasn’t there yet. So we were sitting around waiting, and I ran and grabbed another cup of coffee while we were waiting on him.

“That’s all I remember that day.”

Henline’s vehicle was at the front of the convoy traveling near the Diyala province village of Zaganiyah when an improvised explosive device detonated underneath it. The blast hurled the humvee nearly 50 feet down the road. Four Soldiers — Capt. Jonathan Grassbaugh, Spc. Ebe Emolo, Spc. Levi Hoover and Pfc. Rodney McCandless — were killed instantly. When fellow Soldiers reached the vehicle, they had to smother the flames burning Henline’s upper body and dig the broken teeth out of his mouth to allow him to breathe.

Humor amid hardship

Two weeks later, Henline emerged from a medically induced coma at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, thus beginning a medical odyssey that would provide many painful moments, both physically and emotionally.

But one thing came easy to him — humor.

“I started joking around, even in intensive care, in the first month,” Henline said. “A lot of that I don’t remember. But I do remember one day they were walking me and I was mad because they wouldn’t give me water. And I wanted water. So I was walking around the nurses’ desk and I told them, ‘When I get out of here, we’re having a water party. Squirt guns, balloons. No alcohol allowed. Just water.’ I think that was the first time I really started joking around with people.”

Henline says laughter helped keep spirits high for him and the medical personnel working with him. It also helped his wife, Connie, and the rest of his family cope with their loved one’s ordeal and changed appearance.

“Joking around at the hospital, that was my way of using my sense of humor to let my family know I was OK, to let staff know I was OK,” he said. “It was how [I chose] to deal with the pain during physical therapy, laughing about it, joking with the other patients. I could see my family worrying. My mom couldn’t even get me a drink. She was shaking just trying to put the straw to my mouth, real scared. So it was kind of like, ‘Don’t worry, I’m still here. Even if today I’m kind of groggy.’ I’d still make a little joke to let them know, ‘It’s OK. I’m inside here. I just can’t move right now.’

“I think when I was talking a lot better and able to sit up and stuff, that’s when they were finally like, ‘OK, he’s still in there. He’s back. He’s still being that goofball.’”

From surgery to the stage

Henline spent almost the next two years working to regain a sense of normalcy.

His face was scarred by the burns he suffered and puffed by various skin-graft surgeries. His left ear was gone; his right was reduced to a rough-hewn stub. His smashed left hand eventually became too painful to bear, and he asked doctors to amputate it. After removing the protective goggles he was forced to wear for a year, it took time to get accustomed to the stares.

While jokes helped, Henline couldn’t shake the notion that he needed to heed a call. He just didn’t know what it was. Then his occupational therapist made a “stupid” suggestion.

“One day she told me, ‘You should try stand-up comedy!’” Henline said. “She has this really high-pitched voice, one of those happy people all the time. ‘You’ve gotta try stand-up comedy. You’ve gotta try it!’ I’m like ‘That’s stupid. It’s not gonna work. This, here at the hospital, is funny. We could joke about it here.’ I wasn’t gonna go up on stage and people are gonna go, ‘Oh, you got blown up in Iraq? That’s funny.’”

Henline said he grew up admiring comedians such as George Carlin, Robin Williams and Bill Cosby. But he never considered actually taking a stage. However, after a steady stream of good-natured pestering from his therapist, he obliged, sealing the deal with a pinkie swear.

“My occupational therapist’s sister lives in L.A., and she’s in a band,” Henline said. “So one day, I’m going out there for a consultation to see a doctor. She tells me, ‘My sister’s in entertainment. She might know a place you could try it while you’re out there.’ Sure enough, her sister calls me and says, ‘Hey. Comedy Store. Go sign up at 5 o’clock.’”

Henline’s very first set took place August 2009 at the famed Los Angeles club on the same stage graced by some of comedy’s biggest names.

“It went horrible,” Henline remembers. “My joke I still do today about being a rare birth defect was the first joke I really wrote. No one laughed. But I tag it with, ‘And now my mom thinks she has the right to complain to me about her acid reflux.’ I didn’t think that was the joke. I thought the joke that my mom was in the circus as a fire-eater was the funny part. But they related to the acid reflux better. So I thought, ‘Wow, that’s really the punch line.’ When I got off stage, another comic said to me, ‘I really liked the part about the acid reflux.’ That gave me a little hint, like ‘OK, maybe I can write a joke.’”

And so, Henline returned to San Antonio, where he still resides to be near the medical facilities he frequents, and began performing open-mic sets three nights a week.

A year-and-a-half later, he was in Los Angeles when a chance meeting with a talent agent landed him an appearance in the Showtime documentary. The film, released in April 2013, follows Henline and four other veterans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan as they work with comedy A-listers to explore their experiences through the healing power of humor.

Heeding the call

Henline’s brush with some of comedy’s biggest names did well to instill confidence in his work. But it was feedback from fellow wounded veterans that made him realize his newfound profession was something more than a personal outlet.

“Some of the best feedback I’ve heard comes from guys who are out of the military now,” Henline said. “Two guys — burn survivors, [who] I visited in the hospital a long time ago — have said that what I do helps them. It helps them out in public. They both live in the San Antonio area. They both have been called ‘Bobby Henline’ in public — us burnt guys all look alike. They told me not to feel bad when people call me J.R. Martinez (another famed U.S. Army veteran and burn survivor), because they get the same thing, only they’re called Bobby Henline, the comedian. But they said it really helps them. It’s always breaking the ice for people to feel more comfortable coming up and talking to them. They said they like that.

“Once I started seeing that it could make a difference in people’s lives by going on stage and making people laugh about this, it makes it easier for them, too, to approach somebody else when they see someone with a disfigurement. To know that, hey, we want to talk. We’re not dead. We’re the same person. We like to have dinner, have a drink, go to a movie. We have personalities. We’re not all angry about what happened to us. It’s OK to ask.”

Henline has not limited himself to comedy for his outreach efforts. He conducts motivational speaking visits at schools, colleges, companies and churches. He makes himself available to other wounded warriors in San Antonio hospitals and clinics to give them someone to speak with that might better understand their experiences.

Henline also formed the Crosshairs Comedy troupe with other wounded veterans. The group performs at comedy clubs throughout the country, helping each other with their sets as well as with the emotional setbacks caused by their combat experiences.

Henline performed during Fourth of July weekend in Houston with two members of the troupe — Anthony Torino, a U.S. Air Force veteran, and Raul Sanchez, an Army veteran. Both men lauded Henline’s efforts while on stage. Before the show, Torino jokingly lamented nearly receiving credit for one of Henline’s signature jokes.

“We’ve done a lot of shows together, and I used to sit in the back of the audience,” Torino said. “I used to work with people who were burnt [when I was] a therapist. I’d watch Bobby’s first sets and I was, like, ‘People aren’t paying attention to him. They’re staring at him.’ And he doesn’t give them a chance to just look. He’s used to it; I’m used to it. But the rest of the crowd is like, ‘Holy heck.’ And so I was, like, give them time to go, ‘Holy heck.’ And I was like, ‘What could he say? — You should see the other guy!’ Because he was in a fight, you know what I mean? And the first time he did it, it went great. Turned out to be perfect.”

But Henline didn’t deliver that opening line until he received the same advice from comedian Brad Garrett, a fact Torino dismisses.

“He wouldn’t listen to me,” Torino said. “But Brad Garrett tells him to do it, and …

“Seriously, Bobby is funny. And all the good things he does for us and other people are just awesome.”

NCO lessons shine through

Henline earned his sergeant stripes in 2004, just before joining the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He says his days as an NCO continue to reverberate throughout his life, both personally and professionally.

“Definitely, being a Soldier helped a lot of things,” Henline said. “Especially becoming an NCO — you’re used to talking to the crowds and giving classes and things like that. Also, being burnt meant wherever I went, I got stared at. It didn’t matter. So I figure if I went up on stage and I stood there and people stared at me, it’d be just like me going to Walmart. There wouldn’t be anything different. The attitude of pulling through and making sure you’re OK and all the training definitely comes into being strong.”

Henline also says he enjoyed his days leading other Soldiers. He credits his time with younger Soldiers as the reason he can enjoy the camaraderie of his fellow troupe comics. They are lessons he feels today’s NCOs can continue to employ.

“Leadership style? I’m definitely a participator,” Henline said. “I delegate if there’s enough people around. But if not, I’m gonna get in there. You don’t want to lose a skill by just sitting there giving orders and demands and make everyone else do it, and then you forget how to do it yourself. I was maybe too soft sometimes when I needed to be a little meaner. But I’d rather talk to them and try to coach them that way. I wanted to learn about the individual, who they are. Because they’re just like your children. You know, ‘Which one handles being yelled at better? Which one learns better being talked to?’ So as you get to know your Soldiers better, you can’t just treat them all exactly the same. Because they’re all different personalities and they respond differently. That goes for leadership in the military, raising kids, teachers in schools. In every type of leadership, you need to know what makes the best team. That’s how you make your team work well together.”

There’s one more thing that drives Henline and keeps him feverishly on the trail of his comedic dreams.

“It’s that same old thing, you’ve gotta drive on,” Henline said. “Survivor’s guilt was really bad for me in the beginning. But you’ve gotta live on for those who don’t live anymore, the guys who sacrificed it all. There were four other guys in that humvee who didn’t make it. I sat on the couch, and I felt sorry for myself. I gave up. But what’s that doing for them? I gotta live on for them. Any of them would trade places with me. They’d rather be in pain and look funny and be here. Their families would rather have them back. That’s a big push for me that helps drive me on.”

Henline highlights: A selection of Bobby Henline’s jokes

  • “I was burned over 38 percent of my body. Yes, I expect a discount at my cremation.”
  • “I don’t know if you girls know this, but once you go cooked, you’re hooked.”
  • “I did four tours in Iraq. I loved my job. I had a great time. But seriously, that last tour was a real blast. … My humvee got blown up by a roadside bomb. The crazy thing is that it took me four tours and an IED just to figure out my lucky number was three.”
  • “I love messing with people. I love going to CVS or Walgreens. I get a hand basket and fill it up full of scar removal. I just want to see the look on the cashier’s face. … I love Fourth of July. I go to the fireworks stands and say, ‘Just give me the same stuff you gave me last year. It was great!’”
  • “Over the last six years, I’ve had 46 skin-graft surgeries. I don’t know if you know what that is but, basically, they take good skin from one part of your body to replace the burnt skin in another part. Essentially, they make a skin quilt out of you. They took my stomach and put it on top of my head. Now, I gotta pick lint out of my ears. I get a headache when I eat too much. And that’s not even the worst of it — I’m mooning all of you right now.”
  • “If my comedy career does take off, I’ll be the first comedian ever to show up to his roast pre-cooked. Comedy Central will have to change the name to ‘Serving Leftovers at Bobby Henline’s Reheating Special.’”

Your friendly paintball game just leveled up.

2nd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, inserted via CH-47 Chinook [1], and Paratroopers from the British Army’s B Company, 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, 16th Air Assault Brigade, inserted via UH-60 Black Hawk [2] prepare to engage opposition forces (OPFOR) played by paratroopers from 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division [3] during an air assault mission on Freedom Village [4] at Fort Bragg, N.C. Both 2-501 PIR and 3 PARA were attached as maneuver elements of Task Force Falcon for the duration of 2BCT’s week-long field training exercise.

(Photos by Sgt. Eliverto V. Larios, 82nd Airborne Division, 11 AUG 2014.)

US Army Sergeant Christopher W. Mulalley. 22 AUG 2014.

Died in Gardez, Afghanistan, as the result of a non-combat related incident. The incident is under investigation. Mulalley was assigned to 1st Battalion, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas.

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)