“You can take my leg, but you can’t take my heart and you can’t take my soul. I’m a Green Beret.”
Ten Green Berets from Operational Detachment Alpha 3336 of the 3rd SF Group just received Silver Stars for actions in Afghanistan in April. Ten men from the same unit receiving Silver Stars for actions in the same firefight. Unbelievable. As is this:
As [Master Sgt. Scott] Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet “basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield.”
Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: “I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on.” He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.
These men are the epitome of the toughness that every American boy grows up worshiping, wondering if he could ever measure up if ever called upon to pay such a price for his country and his fellow soldiers. When I was a kid, we would play soldier outside in a game that we called The Green Berets, each of us taking on the role of one of the characters fom the John Wayne movie. Growing up revering that kind of duty, honor, and sacrifice is what lays the ground work for becoming men like these SF operators.
Finally, after hours of fighting, the troops made their way down to the streambed, with those who could still walk carrying the wounded. A medical evacuation helicopter flew in, but the rotors were immediately hit by bullets, so the pilot hovered just long enough to allow the in-flight medic to jump off, then flew away.
A second helicopter came in but had to land in the middle of the icy, fast-moving stream. “It took two to three guys to carry each casualty through the river,” Ford said. “It was a mad dash to the medevac.” As they sat on the helicopter, it sustained several rounds of fire, and the pilot was grazed by a bullet.
By the time the battle ended, the Green Berets and the commandos had suffered 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents were dead, according to an official Army account of the battle. The Special Forces soldiers had nearly run out of ammunition, with each having one to two magazines left, Ford said.
I genuinely believe that men like these are the finest and most impressive individuals that the greatest country on earth can produce. I cannot help thinking of Toby’s Keith’s great lyrics from American Soldier:
An American Soldier an American
Beside my brothers and my sisters, I will proudly take a stand
When liberty’s in jeopardy, I will always do what’s right
I’m out here on the front lines, sleep in peace tonight
American Soldier, I’m and American, an American, an American, Soldier.
As my brother deploys today to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division, I keep thinking about how proud I am to share the label of American with men like him and these incredible Green Berets. If that kind of bravery and sacrifice does not choke you up… there is something wrong with you.