Thursday, October 05, 2006

"because they have grown to identify with their group so tightly that any threat to the group is seen as intolerable"

There is no question concerning the valor and nobility of our young men and women in uniform. The Los Angeles Times has a must-read profile about a young lance corporal nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor. He died in December, 2004 in unrelated (to that nomination) action.

Caption: Marine Lance Cpl. Erick Hodges, left, and Lance Cpl. Ryan Sunnerville, right, pose with Pfc. Christopher Adlesperger on Nov. 8, 2004. Two days later, in an attack in Fallouja, Adlesperger killed at least 11 insurgents. Hodges was killed and Sunnerville was wounded.
"Chris essentially took over," said Malay.

Unable to penetrate the building with his M-16, Adlesperger shifted to the grenade launcher. Standing on the roof, he blew holes in the building and then rained down gunfire on the insurgents below him. They returned fire and then fled.

From his rooftop position, Adlesperger killed four insurgents who had fled into the courtyard, each with a shot to the head. By Malay's estimate, Adlesperger killed a total of 11 insurgents. The actual number may be higher.

The building had been an insurgent command-and-control center. Failure to quickly subdue it, Malay concluded, could have thrown off the timetable for the Fallouja assault, which depended on speed and keeping U.S. casualties to a minimum.

Marines from adjoining rooftops joined Adlesperger and began preparing the wounded for evacuation. Once that was done and Hodges' body was removed, the Marines pushed in one side of the building with an amphibious assault vehicle. Adlesperger insisted on being the first Marine to search the building to make sure all the insurgents were dead.

That night, Starner went to Adlesperger to gather information for the official report. As Adlesperger spoke, he began to weep — not for the men he had killed, or even for the fact he had had to kill them, but for Hodges, a wisecracking Northern Californian who was on his second combat tour in Iraq and had turned 21 only the day before.

"He just kept saying, 'Hodges, Hodges, we had to get him out,' " Starner said.


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