Six Seconds

Came across this today and thought it was worth sharing:

I included a few links early on that validate that this is not an “urban legend”.

Read on………

432px-USMC_logo.svg

One can
hardly conceive of the enormous grief held quietly within General Kelly as
he spoke.

On Nov 13, 2010, Lt General John Kelly, USMC, gave a speech
to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis , MO. This was four days after his
son, Lt. Robert Kelly, USMC, was killed by an IED while on his 3rd Combat
tour.
During his speech, General
Kelly spoke about the dedication and valor of our young men and women who
step forward each and every
day to protect us.

During the
speech, he never mentioned the loss of his own son. He closed the speech
with the moving account of the last six seconds in the lives of two young
Marines, who died with rifles blazing, to protect their brother
Marines.

“I will
leave you with a story about the kind of people they are, about the quality
of the steel in their backs, about
the kind of dedication they bring to
our country while they serve in uniform and forever after as veterans.
Two
years ago when I was the Commander of all U.S. and Iraqi forces, in fact,
the 22nd. of April, 2008, two Marine infantry battalions, 1/9 “The Walking
Dead,” and 2/8 were switching out in Ramadi. One battalion in the closing
days of their deployment going home very soon, the other just starting its
seven-month combat tour.
Two
Marines, Corporal Jonathan Yale and Lance Corporal
Jordan Haerter, 22
and 20 years old respectively, one from each battalion, were assuming the
watch together at the entrance gate of an outpost that contained a
makeshift barracks housing 50 Marines. The same broken down
ramshackle
building was also home to 100 Iraqi police, also my men and
our allies in the fight against the terrorists in Ramadi, a city until
recently, the most dangerous city on earth and owned by Al
Qaeda.
Yale was
a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife, daughter, and a
mother and sister who lived with him and whom he
supported as well. Did
so on a yearly salary of less than
$23,000.
Haerter,
on the other hand, was a middle class white kid from Long Island. They
were from two completely different worlds. Had they not joined the Marines
they would never have met each other, or
understood that multiple
America ‘s exist simultaneously depending on one’s race, education level,
economic status, and where you might have been
born.
But they
were Marines, combat Marines, forged in the same crucible of Marine
training, and because of this bond they were brothers as close, or closer,
than if they were born of the same
woman.
The
mission orders they received from the sergeant squad leader I am sure went
something like, “Okay you two clowns, stand this post and let no
unauthorized personnel or vehicles pass. You clear?”
I am
also sure Yale and Haerter then rolled their eyes and said in unison
something like, “Yes Sergeant,” with just enough attitude that made the
point without saying the words, “No kidding ‘sweetheart’, we know what
we’re doing.” They then relieved two other Marines on watch and took up
their post at the entry control point of Joint Security Station Nasser, in
the Sophia section of Ramadi, Al Anbar, Iraq
.
A few
minutes later a large blue truck turned down the alley way – perhaps 60-70
yards in length, and sped its way through the serpentine of concrete
jersey walls. The truck stopped just short of
where the two Marines
were posted and detonated, killing them both
catastrophically.
Twenty-four brick masonry houses were damaged or
destroyed. A mosque 100 yards away collapsed. The truck’s engine came to
rest two hundred yards away knocking most of a house down before it
stopped. Our explosive experts reckoned the blast was made of 2,000 pounds
of explosives. Two died, and because these two young infantrymen didn’t
have it in their DNA to run from danger, they saved 150 of their Iraqi and
American brothers-in-arms.

When I read the situation report about
the incident a few hours after it happened I called the regimental
commander for details as something about this struck me as different.
Marines dying or being seriously wounded is commonplace in combat. We
expect
Marines regardless of rank or MOS to stand their ground and do
their duty, and even die in the process, if that is what the mission
takes. But this just seemed different. The regimental commander had just
returned from the site and he agreed, but reported that there were no
American witnesses to the event – just Iraqi police. I figured if there
was any chance of finding out what actually happened and then to decorate
the two Marines to acknowledge their bravery, I’d have to do it as a
combat award that requires two eye-witnesses and we figured the
bureaucrats back in Washington would never buy Iraqi statements. If it had
any chance at all, it had to come under the signature of a general
officer.

I traveled to Ramadi the next day and spoke individually
to a half-dozen Iraqi police all of whom told the same story. The blue
truck turned down into the alley and immediately sped up as it made its
way through the serpentine. They all said, “We knew
immediately what
was going on as soon as the two Marines began firing.”
The
Iraqi police then related that some of them also fired, and then to a man,
ran for safety just prior to the explosion. All survived. Many were
injured, some seriously. One of the Iraqis elaborated and with tears
welling up said, “They’d run like any normal man would to save his life.”
“What he didn’t know until then,” he said, “And what he learned that
instant, was that Marines are not
normal.”
Choking
past the emotion he said, “Sir, in the name of God, no sane man would
have stood there and done what they
did.” “No sane man.” “They saved us
all.”

What we didn’t know at the time, and only learned a
couple of days later after I wrote a summary and submitted both Yale and
Haerter for posthumous Navy Crosses, was that one of our security cameras,
damaged initially in the blast, recorded some of the suicide attack. It
happened exactly as the Iraqis had described it. It took exactly six
seconds from when the truck entered the alley until it
detonated.

You can watch the last six seconds of their young lives.
Putting myself in their heads, I supposed it took about a second for the
two Marines to separately come to the same conclusion about what was going
on once the truck came into their view at the far end of the alley.
Exactly no time to talk it over, or call the sergeant to ask what they
should do. Only enough time to take half an instant and think about what
the sergeant told them to do only a few minutes before, “Let no
unauthorized
personnel or vehicles pass.” The two Marines had about
five seconds left to live.

It took maybe another two seconds
for them to present their weapons, take aim, and open up. By this time the
truck was half-way through the barriers and gaining speed the whole time.
Here, the recording shows a number of Iraqi police, some of whom had fired
their AKs, now scattering like the normal and rational men they were –
some running right past the Marines.
They had
three seconds left to live.

For about two seconds more, the
recording shows the Marines’ weapons firing non-stop the truck’s
windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart
and tore in to the body of the ( I deleted) who is trying to get past them
to kill their brothers –
American and Iraqi-bedded down in the barracks
totally unaware of the fact that their lives at that moment depended
entirely on two Marines standing their ground.

If they had been
aware, they would have known they were safe because two Marines stood
between them and a crazed suicide bomber. The recording shows the truck
careening to a stop immediately in front of the two
Marines.
In all
of the instantaneous violence Yale and Haerter never hesitated. By all
reports and by the recording, they never stepped back. They never even
started to step aside. They never even shifted their weight. With their
feet spread shoulder width apart, they leaned into the danger, firing as
fast as they could work their weapons.
They had
only one second left to live.

The truck explodes. The camera
goes blank. Two young men go to their God. Six seconds. Not enough
time to think about their families, their country, their flag, or about
their lives or their deaths, but more than enough time for two very brave
young men to do their duty into eternity. That is the kind of people who
are on watch all over the world tonight – for you.

We Marines
believe that God gave America the greatest gift he could bestow to man
while he lived on this earth – freedom. We also believe he gave us another
gift nearly as precious – our soldiers, sailors, airmen, U. S. Customs and
Border Patrol, Coast Guardsmen, and Marines – to safeguard that gift and
guarantee no force on this earth can ever steal it
away.

It has
been my distinct honor to have been with you here today. Rest assured our
America, this experiment in democracy started over two centuries ago, will
forever remain the “land of the free and home of the brave” so long as we
never run out of tough young Americans who are willing to look beyond
their own self-interest and comfortable lives, and go into the darkest and
most dangerous places on earth to hunt down, and kill, those who would do
us harm.

God Bless America , and SEMPER FIDELIS !”

HT to bidmanone@aol.com

About Ray V.

Living between Aiken & Nashville, TN, USA, I like to share what I am looking at, thinking about or listening to. I refer to this as the view out my window. Thanks for stopping by.
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2 Responses to Six Seconds

  1. I have tears rolling down my cheeks. Thanks for sharing.

    Like

  2. Brittius says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.com and commented:
    Semper Fi.

    Like

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