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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Why We Are Free"

They Are Why We Are Free

They Are Why We Are Free

The Sergeant jumped off a two-story building while under intense fire because he knew that was the fastest way to get to the fallen Soldier lying in the middle of the street, still being fired upon. The Sergeant shielded the wounded Soldier with his body while bullets flew around him, providing life saving first aid, before pulling him to safety – He is why we are free.

He was in the Mobile All-Terrain Vehicle (MATV) when it was hit by an IED. He didn’t wear a military uniform – he was a contractor. He gave his life that day with three Soldiers because his Nation needed his expertise to help our Afghan partners. He answered the call and his wife and child will forever know what his sacrifice cost – He is why we are free.

The medic jumped from the hovering aircraft and ran through a known minefield to the wounded Soldier. She assessed his injuries to be extremely urgent and went to work. She then retraced her steps through the minefield, dragging the wounded Soldier towards the evacuation site. Once the helicopter was able to return, she exposed herself to enemy fire while lifting the casualty into the helicopter – She is why we are free.

The wife leaves the house in the early afternoon to shuttle their three children to swimming and gymnastics. She will spend the next 5 hours making sure they are at the right place at the right time, and then she will take them home and prepare their evening meal. Long after they are asleep she will finish washing dishes, washing clothes and the rest of the things required to keep the household running while her husband is deployed. She will go to bed at midnight and wake the next morning to do it all again…for a year – She is why we are free.

The young Lieutenant triggered the IED while on a dismounted patrol. His wife, also a Lieutenant in the same brigade, was quickly flown to his side. Their lives were forever changed that day – and she will be by his side as he learns to walk again, just as she was at his hospital bedside. Both of these young officers joined the Army well after 9/11 and knew they would be called upon to serve their Nation on the battlefield – They are why we are free.

The young medic was engaging the enemy with his M4 when he heard to call, “Medic”. He ran through intense enemy fire to the wounded Soldier and rendered aid. Again under fire, he carried the casualty to the extraction site. When it was determined the evacuation site was taking too much enemy fire, he carried “his” Soldier through more enemy fire to a second evacuation site. When the helicopter couldn’t land due to terrain, the medic completely exposed himself to danger by standing up for several minutes under fire in order to hoist the casualty into the helicopter – He is why we are free.

She is on her second deployment; her husband is as well…but they have never been deployed together. In fact, they have physically been together for only one of the five years they’ve been married. They intend to stay in the Army – they love serving our Nation and they are selfless – They are why we are free.

He was the point man when the enemy engaged them. He was one of the first to be hit. The medic ran through intense fire to his side, and after several minutes of full exposure to the enemy, the medic fell mortally wounded. The wounded Soldier changed from patient to protector in a second. He covered the medic with his own body and tried to save his life. He continued to shield the medic despite rounds that were impacting all around him – he was wounded again – They are why we are free.

On our Nation’s birthday it is appropriate to relay a few of the stories that are lived out across the battlefields of Afghanistan and home fronts daily. These are the few chosen ones that have answered the call – they and their families serve this Nation – They are why we are free.

LTC Jack Usrey – Pegasus 1

Operation Enduring Freedom

July 4, 2011

I hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July. And, I hope everyone took a minute to remember "why we are free!"

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