Duty

eagle-at-arlington-cemetaryWe’re going to stay on the topic of duty today. Yesterday, in speaking of the Queen’s accession to the throne, we spoke of her in the context of doing her duty, always. Today we will speak of two young US Marines, who did as well. The story comes to us from Mike McDaniels, who explains:

After serving the Marine Corps for 45 years, General John Kelly is now serving America as Secretary of Homeland Security. These days, General Kelly, and every other Trump nominee for an important position, is the target of vitriol by people not qualified to referee a dog fight, I thought, gentle readers, you might like to see what kind of man is responsible for manning the watchtowers. This comes to us via an e-mail from American Legion Post 0458, Indian Trail, North Carolina, 28079.

Here is how General Kelly ended his speech.

“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 22 ND 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 and daughter, and a mother and sister who lived with him and whom 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. 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, 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.

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 very 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 !”

via Gen. John Kelly: “They Saved Us All” | Stately McDaniel Manor

The only thing left to add is this: Four days before he gave this speech, General Kelly’s son, Lt Robert Kelly, USMC, was killed on his third combat tour by an IED. That he never mentioned.

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11 Responses to Duty

  1. Speaking of the Queen, the place of “duty” is much more than routine, but leadership and moral fiber. Her Majesty’s position against the classic and historical position on marriage, between a man and a woman alone has been lost! She has now called Gay Marriage “wonderful”. It has been signed into law!

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    • NEO says:

      I’ve seen no real documentation that she supports SSM. I doubt here is any and I doubt she does. Innuendo will not suffice.

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      • You really need to do your homework here, she has certainly spoken in favor of it several times! And she has NOT come out against it! And now of course it is law in the UK! What else are we to think?

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        • Royal Assent

          The Queen granted Royal Assent to the Bill on 17 July 2013, thereby becoming The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.[38]

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        • A fuller piece, and note this was 4 years ago! http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/finally-legal-queen-gives-gay-marriage-the-royal-assent-8714340.html

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        • NEO says:

          And she had what choice? None essentially. You need to read up on The Declaration of Right in 1689 and its provisions, specifically “the pretended power of suspending the laws and dispensing with laws by regal authority without consent of Parliament is illegal;” and others, and her powers have been reduced many times since then. She has only the power of persuasion, and Brit politicians are arguably worse than ours, so an appeal to God, Honor, Tradition, or for that matter, anything else honorable, is highly unlikely to work. Doing her duty to God and England has put her firmly between a rock and a hard place. Listen to the twaddle of the Archbishop of Canterbury for a while, and see what she has to put up with.

          Now if we were speaking of Charles, I’d wholeheartedly agree with you.

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        • Btw NEO my dear friend, it seems your reading and documentation are late and in error! No innuendo at all! And its okay to love the Brits, but always with truth! There are many kinds of Brits these days! The good, the bad, and the ugly! 😉

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        • NEO says:

          That’s true, of course, but the queen is the same as she has ever been, answerable to God and her duty.

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        • NEO: My whole point is to the Queens religious and moral ground, she just does NOT show much true Christian depth (of course in my biblical and theological opinion), and of course too she is no Victoria (1837-1901). Btw,YOU need to visit England and the UK, that would be a real wake-up call in my opinion again, the times they have a changed… The WW 2 mentality is long gone sadly! 🙂

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        • Btw, the general life in the UK today is simply secular, people just doing their thing, but without much thought of the Almighty, yes there are still many good people also, but sadly many seem so far from the knowledge of a personal God. Godliness is simply NOT the order of the day! And here I am not speaking of Muslims, and there are many of them also. The point is this is simply NOT the culture of WW II, nor the 1950’s. Though the latter was again NOT the 1940’s for sure either. I can quite remember my Uncles complaining about the kids in the 1950’s. Indeed we have been on a slow and long departure from the general biblicism of the late 19th century to the early and somewhat mid 20th century. And again, I can remember modernism was the bugger-man in the mid 1950’s to the early 60’s, as a Traditional Catholic! Of course I am speaking about being an Irish Brit, and visiting England also. Biblicism and Evangelicalism has never had the following like the American Bible Belt, though there were and still are definite Biblical Christians in Britain, but the latter are getting rare these days surely! But of course this is MY experience and perception, and I am 67, and a retired conservative Anglican priest/presbyter. Who is now thank God in America!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. the unit says:

    Well, ignorence of the law and breaking it has been shown lately to be ok for the elite. I’ll believe the above beliefs when next in line for the crown is a princess to be named Queen George. Kinda like a boy named…

    🙂

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