Skip to comments.Every Marine a Rifleman
Posted on 09/27/2004 9:49:18 AM PDT by sean327
In boot camp, recruits learn that every Marine is a rifleman and this is reinforced annually when each Marine must requalify on the rifle range. Cpl Young put that training to good use when the base he was working on in An Najaf, Iraq came under attack by approximately 800 anti-coalition militiamen, April 4, 2004. Young fought alongside seven Blackwater Security personnel to secure the base and defeat the enemy. Here's his account of the day's events.
The day was Sunday, April 4th. Corporal Lonnie Young had been in Iraq since January, three long, hot months in the war-torn country and a far cry from his hometown of Dry Ridge, Kentucky -- small-town America with a population of 2,000.
Being called to the frontlines as a Defense Messaging System administrator, he quickly found himself providing convoy security and personal security for visiting general officers, but on this day he was setting up communication throughout the different camps.
Young and his co-workers, approximately seven civilian contractors and coalition fighters, pulled into the gates of Camp Golf in An Najaf to establish a communication link at the coalition base.
"While entering the front gate, I noticed a small group of protesters out in the streets," Young recalled. "As we proceeded onto the base there were numerous coalition soldiers in "riot gear" near the front gate. Our rendezvous point was behind the first building in a large parking lot."
After undergoing a short mission briefing, the convoy moved to the rear of the base to continue their mission at hand. Young and his team remained with the 5-ton truck and went to work installing a Motorola base-station radio in the Spanish Forces headquarters building.
"We entered the building and had a quick discussion with the Spanish commander. After the short introduction, we went to the roof and began installing the radio antenna," Young said.
While on the roof, Young stopped for a brief moment to clear his head and admire the view of the cityscape. He recalls not seeing many people in the streets. Everything seemed tranquil and peaceful, a scarce sight in Iraq today. Little did he know that this was the calm before the storm.
"We went back downstairs to the radio room to continue the installs, and after about twenty-minutes we finished up everything. I then grabbed all of our gear and took it back outside to the five-ton truck."
"Since we were about twenty-minutes from chow time, I removed my cammie blouse and caught a quick 10-minute nap in the back of the truck. Andy, a civilian contractor, came outside, woke me up, and exclaimed that we were not getting a good signal on the radio and that we need to fix it. I told him that I would be right in to help. I got dressed, grabbed my weapon, and was about to get out of the truck when I heard the unmistakable sound of an AK-47 rifle fire a few rounds out in the street in front of the base."
The shots Young heard fired were just the beginning of what would turn out to be a brutal four-hour firefight between eight commandos from Blackwater Security Consulting, a handful of U.S. and coalition force troops, and approximately 800 anti-coalition militia members.
Upon hearing the shots, Young threw on his gear, grabbed his M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW), and assumed a clear vantage point atop the roof alongside his comrades. He peered through his rear site aperture at the armed mob below, awaiting further orders to engage.
"After what seemed like an eternity, which was maybe just a few seconds, I could see people getting out of the truck and start running. One of the Iraqis quickly dropped down into a prone position and fired several round at us. I started yelling that I had one in my sights and asking if I could engage. 'With your permission Sir, I have acquired a target', I yelled over and over until finally, the Blackwater Security guys gave the call of commence firing," Young explained.
"I leveled the sights on my target and squeezed the trigger. I could see that the man had on an all white robe and was carrying an AK-47 rifle in his right hand. He seemed to be running as hard as he could when I fired off a short burst of 5.56 mm rounds. Through my sights I could see the man fall onto the pavement. I stopped for a second, raised my head from my gun, to watch the man lay in the street motionless."
"I had a weird feeling come over me," Young recalled. "I had many emotions kick in at once. I felt a sense of purpose, happiness, and sorrow, which all hit me at once."
The battle raged on with rounds whizzing closely overhead, Young unrelentingly fired belt after belt of ammunition and suppressing fire, deterring the rebel fighters.
"I was getting ready to make an 'ammo' run when out of the corner of my eye, I saw Capt. Eddy get hit and fall to the cement rooftop," he explained. "He made a short scream and then yelled for a medic. I leaned my weapon up against the wall and dove to his side. I started to remove Capt. Eddy's gear carefully one piece at a time.
"At that moment, I could hear bullets ricocheting off through the air and smacking a tin air duct. I removed Capt. Eddy's Interceptor vest and continued to cut off his brown T-shirt. I could see a small hole in his left arm that was gushing blood. I looked around him and shortly thereafter found another hole close to the center of his back. Quickly grabbing my medical kit from my load bearing vest (LBV), I dumped it out onto the ground and started to search through its contents."
Young grabbed a couple gauze patches and applied pressure to the blood spurting wounds.
"We came up with a plan. He said that he could run, so I put his right arm around my neck and called for covering fire. I heard everybody firing their weapons rapidly as we made our run for the door. The sounds were ear piercing and very intense. I continued on and carried Capt. Eddy down the stairs and into the tactical medical room they had set up on the first floor."
"I then saw a beautiful sight. There were two tanks rolling out into the drive that leads to the front gate. I could hear their machine guns lighting up and their tracks slapping the pavement as they moved. You could sometimes see sparks come off of the tanks as bullets ricocheted off of its heavily armored hull. It was a great sense of relief to see them out there. It gave me motivation to continue on without noticing any kind of fatigue or pain that was throbbing through my knees from diving around and trying to dodge bullets."
Young loaded up a few magazines and returned back to his rooftop position. Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something red flash out in front of him.... SMACK! Again, the unforgettable sound of bullets ripping through human flesh rung in the young corporal's ears.
"It sounded just like a bullet smacking a target at the rifle range -- a really sharp crack. I had heard that same crack when Capt. Eddy was hit. I looked down and to my left, and saw a horrific sight. I saw blood gushing and squirting out the side of a guy's face."
That guy was a linguist for Blackwater Security. To this day, Young has yet to figure out his name. It was the first time that he had ever seen the man, but he still considered him to be a brother. He set down his weapon and leaped to the injured man's side.
"I could see a quarter-sized hole in his jaw. By this time, the guy had lost about a pint of blood. I tried to press on the wound and stop the bleeding that way, but the blood was squirting out between my fingers. I had thought to myself that his carotid artery had to be cut. Using my index finger, I reached inside the hole and began to feel around. It took a few seconds to find it, but finally, I felt something like a large vein. I wrapped my finger around it and pinched as hard as I could."
With bullets raining down on them, Young grabbed the guy by the back of his Interceptor vest and began to drag him. As he was dragging him, the Marine heard an ear-piercing smack, much like the all to familiar smack that he had earlier when the guys beside him had been hit. He then found himself hurling through the air and collapsing to the concrete rooftop.
"I had a burning sensation like I had never felt before on the backside of my left shoulder. My left eye was throbbing as I tried to rub out what I thought was dirt. I could no longer see out of my left eye. I picked myself up and looked around for who had been hit. I knew that I heard the unmistakable smack, but no one appeared to be shot. I went back to the guy that I was previously dragging and moved him on in behind a concrete air duct in the center of the front wall. There, the Blackwater medic came sliding in by the guy's other side. I reached back inside the hole in the guy's neck and pinched once again."
With every once of energy left in the weary Marine's body, he hauled the badly injured man down off the rooftop and into the floor below where medics were still administering first aid to the wounded captain. As the battle raged on outside, the Marine grabbed his SAW and some more ammunition and ran back to his rooftop perch.
"I gazed over the streets with straining eyes, only to see hundreds of dead Iraqis lying all over the ground," Young recollects. "It was an unbelievable sight; even though there were so many lying dead, the Iraqis were still running towards the front gate. I opened fire once again. Emptying magazine after magazine, I watched the people dressed in white and black robes drop to the ground as my sights passed by them. All I could think about at that time was that I had to either kill or be killed. It felt as if we were losing ground. In many senses we were, but that feeling just made me fight harder."
Suddenly, Young felt a tugging on his back. He turned and looked over his right shoulder to see one of his officers yelling at him, ordering him off of the roof. It was then the Marine realized he was standing in a pool of his own blood. The last smack he heard was in fact his own flesh being torn.
"Still a little confused about what was going on, he asked me where I was hit. I told him that I wasn't sure but I thought that it was my back. I was sweating heavily and it was getting in my eyes. I took off my Kevlar helmet and wiped the right side of my face. I could feel the sweat dripping off my hand, so I flung my hand really quickly, as to fling all the water off.... my hand was painted bright red from fresh blood," said Young.
Feelings of dread overtook Young as he frantically felt around his face for a bullet hole.
Ka-Bar in hand, they cut the Marine's green T-shirt to expose the bloodied wound. One entrance hole was found, right in line with his heart and there were no exit holes.
"I said to the captain that I was good to go and started to put my Interceptor vest back on. I felt that I was able to get back in the fight, but the captain thought differently. After a short argument, the captain convinced me to get down off the roof."
"A small bit of time passed and the room started spinning. My eyelids felt like they had bricks tied to them, and I was hot all over. I heard the 'doc' say that they had to get me out of there. They started to pick me up and I gained enough sense to walk on my own. We ran outside and I saw three Blackwater helicopters sitting there. I ran to the farthest helicopter and got inside the front passenger seat. I felt very nervous as we took off from the ground. I didn't have any body armor at all, nor did I have a weapon. I looked all around the base and saw that everybody was firing their weapons.... I felt almost helpless sitting there."
Young explained that the helicopter ride to the hospital in Baghdad seemed like an eternity. Upon arrival, he went straight into surgery. After a successful operation, the round was removed from his back, and piece of shrapnel was removed from his left eye, but no major damage was done. The doctor even let Young keep the troublesome hunk of metal as a war trophy.
In the words of Maj. Douglas Fordham, the only other Marine attached to the DMS team of technicians, Young was critical to the success of the militia deterrence.
"I can tell you this, before this attack ever broke out in the two days of operations that preceded it, I was very confident placing the security of my team and indeed my own life in the hands of this corporal," explained Fordham. "I had no doubt in him. He exuded a level of confidence and professionalism found in few seniors and even fewer peers. As I look back on all of this, I believe that I have Cpl. Young to thank that I am still alive. Period."
Young has seen the horrors of war; he's experienced hell firsthand and learned the hard way that truth is far stranger than the fiction of movies. What could possibly make a man sacrifice his own well-being for the safety of two complete strangers? The answer is simple.... The title Marine.
The title Marine - earned, never given - has inspired ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things for 228 years. Cpl Young isn't the first and he won't be the last Marine to ignore his own injuries to protect others, but this remarkable account deserves to be shared.
One of the few surviving CMoH winners say it best. In regards to the Marines on Iwo Jima as well as to all Marines in general.
"The ONLY reason that every Marine does not have a medal for valor is that there was no officer or senior SNCO around to witness their heroism and write them up for it."
Today's Marines CONTINUE the TRADITION.
he felt a sense of happiness when he killed the guy?
A similar story, along with a photo of the battle was posted a few days ago. The valor shown by this young man just keeps getting more and more incredible to read.
Thank God we're on the side of good in this war and our Marines, soldiers sailors and airmen are at the edge of the sword.
"he felt a sense of happiness when he killed the guy?
Yeah newbie. When someone is trying to kill you and you kill them first, you have a good reason to feel happy.
What's so damn hard to understand about that?
Outstanding! this is why I always have the utmost respect for the Devil Dogs!
I salute all of them out their doing what they got to do to get the job done!
You reek of troll.
A warrior, fighting to save his brothers has his moment of vindication. All that hard work, sweat and training pays off.
Nice try. But the context was
"I had many emotions kick in at once. I felt a sense of purpose, happiness, and sorrow, which all hit me at once."
And secondly, I don't find it odd that he would be happy to kill the ENEMY that was coming to kill him and his comrades.
"The most dangerous weapon in the world is a Marine and his rifle."
Gen. 'Black Jack' Pershing
He also felt sorry, as well as other things al at once.
Probably happy that the guy hadn't killed him.
I've acquired a target! Request permission to ZOT!
Go don your asbestos undies, newbie. You are about to be flamed!
I, too, am happy that Corporal Young (and his shipmates) whacked a bunch of those raghead bastards. Wish I were young enough to have been by his side!
I was artillery.
We felt happiness when we blew stuff up.
There something WRONG with being satisfied with your work?
Marines are an incredible bunch of guys......I love the brother hood that they share. Many are a cut above the rest and I am grateful for your service... May God keep all are Soliders and Marines safe, in the palm of His Hand.
Did you enjoy watching the WTC collapse?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.