To honor our troops for this year, I am going to share this story about their mettle. What follows are excerpts from remarks by Marine Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly made to the Semper Fi Society of St. Louis on November 13, 2010. While leading his platoon on a combat patrol, Kelly’s son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, had been killed in action four days earlier in Sangin, in southern Afghanistan. Lt. Kelly was only 29-years-old.
Giving Thanks for Our Warriors
“Those with less of a sense of service to the nation never understand it when men and women of character step forward to look danger and adversity straight in the eye, refusing to blink, or give ground, even to their own deaths… No, they are not victims but are warriors, your warriors, and warriors are never victims regardless of how and where they fall. Death, or fear of death, has no power over them. Their paths are paved by sacrifice, sacrifices they gladly make… for you….
“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… 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… Yale was a dirt poor mixed-race kid from Virginia with a wife and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and he supported as well. He did this 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… 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.
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“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 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…
“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 [Iraqi policemen on the scene] 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 halfway 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 nonstop… the truck’s windshield exploding into shards of glass as their rounds take it apart and tore into the body of the son-of-a-beech 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.”
(Originally published by The Weekly Standard in December of 2010)
Tales like this are legion in the annuls of the military history of the United States of America. Our citizen soldiers are some of the best ever seen by mankind. This Memorial Day, please do remember them, pray for them, support them.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.
June 6, 1944 D-Day: The Allied Invasion Saves The World From Nazi Tyranny.
June 6, 2021, is the 77th Anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy. The invasion that saved the world from Nazi allied invasion of Normandy On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Code named Operation Overlord, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” The invasion was supposed to happen on the 5th, but the weather forced Eisenhower to delay: Capt. James Martin Stagg was the chief meteorologist of the British Royal Air Force and was the one to brief Eisenhower about the rough seas and lashing rain affecting the shore on June 5. Stagg previsioned the small window of better weather for early morning June 6….The Germans did not foresee this brief break in the bad weather. In fact, they forecast unsettled weather until mid-June. In charge with the defense of the invasion of beaches with the Germans, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel was certain there would be no invasion between June 5 and 8 because the tides would not be favorable. Rommel was very wrong. On June 6th, more than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foothold in Continental Europe. Within ten days, there were half a million troops ashore, and within three weeks, there were two million. Allied invasion of Normandy The invasion was the most massive amphibious military assault in history and required extensive planning. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded. Their sacrifice allowed the allies to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, defeat Adolph Hitler’s troops, and save…
Erasing History? Tiananmen Square, the Anniversary China Wants Us To Forget
What happened in China on June 4th, 1989, is something worth remembering every year.
By Wes Walker Should we respect China as just another modern state in the competitive mix with all the others? Or should we view their regime more like a dangerous coiled snake waiting for its chance to strike? If you listen to Hollywood, the NBA, and even Joe Biden, you might be lulled to sleep by the lullaby that China is just another advanced nation taking its place at the table among friendly rival nations… that we shouldn’t take their threats to nuke America too seriously. Nor should we worry too much about the COVID cover-up, or the various inroads they have been making at corrupting Universities, stealing IP, acquiring dual-use technologies, ramping up their military potential, or harassing their neighbors. And we definitely, definitely, shouldn’t pay any attention to the close financial ties Joe Biden’s family has to the CCP… asking who the Big Guy is who gets 10% is strictly off-limits. But some of us have memories longer than a goldfish. And June 4th happens to mark an important day in history — one worth remembering every year. A famous photo from that event is etched in the minds of most anyone who was alive to remember when it was news. https://twitter.com/txsharmatweet/status/1400168668261011456 Here’s an image of that day you probably have NOT seen before. https://twitter.com/Stand_with_HK/status/1398289205680353281 The Chinese army crackdown on the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests killed at least 10,000 people, according to newly released UK documents. The figure was given in a secret diplomatic cable from then British ambassador to China, Sir Alan Donald. The original source was a friend of a member of China’s State Council, the envoy says. Previous estimates of the deaths in the pro-democracy protests ranged from several hundred to more than 1,000. China’s statement at the end of June 1989 said that 200…
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