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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Current Events > The Middle East > War in Iraq

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War in Iraq Operations Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and ongoing operations in the region.

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Old 08 Dec 06, 20:46
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Most Decorated GWOT Soldier

Let try something light. We all know about Audy Mruphy who was the most decorated American soldier of WWII and Col David Hackworth who was until recently the most decorated living American soldier.

Which leads to who is the most decorated soldier of the GWOT (living or dead)?

Your answers could probably prove very enlightening
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Old 09 Dec 06, 01:55
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Brian Chontosh, the Navy Cross, for extraordinary heroism

Marine Capt. Brian R. Chontosh received the Navy Cross Medal from the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee, during an awards ceremony on May 6, 2004 at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif.

Three other Marines received medals for valor at the same ceremony.

Chontosh, 29, from Rochester, N.Y., received the naval service's second highest award for extraordinary heroism while serving as Combined Anti-Armor Platoon Commander, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 25, 2003. The Medal of Honor is the highest military award.

While leading his platoon north on Highway 1 toward Ad Diwaniyah, Chontosh's platoon moved into a coordinated ambush of mortars, rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons fire. With coalitions tanks blocking the road ahead, he realized his platoon was caught in a kill zone. He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers. When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.

General Hagee commented this way:

"They are the reflection of the Marine Corps type who's service to the Marine Corps and country is held above their own safety and lives. I'm proud to be here awarding the second highest and third highest awards for bravery to these great Marines."

"These four Marines are a reflection of every Marine and sailor in this great battalion," said Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada.

"I was just doing my job, I did the same thing every other Marine would have done, it was just a passion and love for my Marines, the experience put a lot into perspective," said Chontosh.

In effect since April 1917, and established by an Act of Congress on Feb. 4, 1919, the Navy Cross may be awarded to any person who, while serving with the Navy or Marine Corps, distinguishes himself/herself in action by extraordinary heroism not justifying an award of the Medal of Honor. The action must take place under one of three circumstances: while engaged in action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or, while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict in which the United States is not a belligerent party.

To earn a Navy Cross the act to be commended must be performed in the presence of great danger or at great personal risk and must be performed in such a manner as to render the individual highly conspicuous among others of equal grade, rate, experience, or position of responsibility.

More than 6,000 Navy Crosses have been awarded since World War I.



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Old 09 Dec 06, 02:23
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Corporal Jason Dunham

Marines Corporal Jason Dunham

Medal of Honor

For Heroism April 2004, Al Qaim

:flag:
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Old 09 Dec 06, 02:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salinator View Post
Marines Corporal Jason Dunham

Medal of Honor

For Heroism April 2004, Al Qaim

:flag:
Bobby Warns as well...

Quote:
Marines honor corporal's heroic sacrifice
April 29, 2004; Submitted on: 04/21/2005 01:33:28 PM ; Story ID#: 20045143251

By Sgt. Jose L. Garcia, 1st Marine Division

CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq (April 29, 2004) -- Recruits at the Corps' two recruit training depots will know Cpl. Jason L. Dunham. They will know that the 22-year-old Marine lived up to the Corps' largest legends and laid down his own life to save those of his Marines.

Dunham, a machine gunner for Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was memorialized by his battalion April 29th here. A crowd of more than 500 Marines, sailors and soldiers gathered under a dark and cloudy sky for a memorial service to pay their last respects to a brave hero.

Dunham, from Scio, N.Y., died from his wounds April 24. Ten days earlier, the Marine dove on top of a grenade, absorbing nearly all the blast with his own body to save his fellow Marines.

"His was a selfless act of courage to save his fellow Marines," said Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Huff, sergeant major for 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment. "This generation of Marines is as good as any generation we've ever had in the Corps."

Dunham was manning a vehicle checkpoint near Husaybah after a convoy was ambushed April 14. He observed car pull up and a man jump from the vehicle, sprinting away. Dunham - in full combat gear - chased the man down, tackling him to the ground.

Other Marines came to assist in the apprehension when the terrorist pulled a pin from a hand grenade. Dunham dove onto the grenade, taking the blast into his own body, saving the lives of his Marines. Dunham suffered serious wounds, along with two other Marines. But were it not for his actions, all three might have died.

"He new what he was doing," said Lance Cpl. Jason A. Sanders, 21, from McAllester, Okla., and a mortar man with Company K. "He wanted to save Marines' lives from that grenade."

Another mortar man with the company, Lance Cpl. Mark E. Dean, 22, from Owasso, Okla., described Dunham as an unselfish Marine. Dunham's enlistment was to end in June, but he voluntarily extended his contract to join his Marines.

"We told him he was crazy for coming out here," Dean explained. "He decided to come out here and fight with us. All he wanted was to make sure his boys made it back home."

"The only way to honor him is in his own way," said Capt. Trent A. Gibson, commanding officer for Company K. "We must continue to do our duty, take care of our Marines, lead by example and take the fight to the enemy."

Dunham dreamed of joining the Los Angeles Police Department after his tour.

He was born Nov. 10, 1981 and joined the Marine Corps July 31, 2000. The Marine completed recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. He joined 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in September 2003, serving with 4th Platoon as a machine gunner.

Huff said commanders with the battalion are still awaiting eyewitness statements from Marines before determining at what level they will recommend Dunham for a decoration.

"What Corporal Dunham did equates to what a lot of heroes of our past have done to earn the nation's highest honor," explained Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell, 1st Marine Division's sergeant major. "If it were up to me, he'd be put in for the Medal of Honor. From bits and pieces of what I'm hearing, it very well could be.

"He'll be in the history books, like many of our Marines here," Bell added.

Dunham survived his wounds for ten days when his parents, Daniel K. Dunham and Natalie J. Sherwood made the decision to end life support for the Marine. According to Bell, Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada were at Dunham's bedside with his parents at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland when he died.

"That in itself speaks volumes knowing that no matter who it is - general officer or a corporal - his act alone warrants a visit from the Commandant," Bell said. "I know that the Marines who are alive today, because of what Corporal Dunham did, will never forget that Marine as long as they live.

"Corporal Dunham is everybody's hero," Bell added. "He sacrificed his life so his Marines could continue the mission."

"God made something special when he made Jason," Dean said, "It was a privilege and honor to know him. It's sad he is gone but he is living it up in heaven and I'm happy for that."
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Old 09 Dec 06, 02:40
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Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith

Sgt 1st Class Paul Ray Smith

Medal of Honor

Saving 100 of his comrades and killing 20-50 enemies. Outside Bagdad April 5, 2003.

:flag:

Last edited by Salinator; 09 Dec 06 at 23:03..
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Old 09 Dec 06, 02:45
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Quote:
Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith's family will receive the first Medal of Honor awarded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Here, Smith is shown in the field during the war in Iraq.


WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 30, 2005) -- The White House announced March 29 that President George W. Bush will honor Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith by presenting his family the Medal of Honor on April 4, the second anniversary of his courageous actions during the Battle of Baghdad Airport.

Smith is the first to receive the militarys highest award for actions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In action near the Baghdad Airport on April 4, 2003, Smith, a Soldier in Company B, 11th Engineer Battalion, working with units of the 3rd Infantry Division, was tasked to build a compound to hold enemy prisoners, when his small force came under attack by more than 100 enemies.

Smith threw two grenades and fired rocket launchers at the enemy before manning a .50-caliber machine gun on an M-113 Armored Personnel Carrier to protect his troops. While engaging an enemy attacking from three sides, Smith fired more than 300 rounds from the machinegun before being killed.

He prevented the enemy from overtaking his units position, protected his Task Forces flank, and defended the lives of more than 100 Soldiers, according to his award citation.

Smith was serving as a platoon sergeant in Bravo Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, Task Force 2-7, 3rd Infantry Division. He had been serving in the Army since October 1989.
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Old 09 Dec 06, 04:12
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The full offical citation:

Quote:
Private Beharry carried out two individual acts of great heroism by which he saved the lives of his comrades.

Both were in direct face of the enemy, under intense fire, at great personal risk to himself (one leading to him sustaining very serious injuries).

His valour is worthy of the highest recognition.

In the early hours of the 1st May 2004 Beharry's company was ordered to replenish an isolated Coalition Forces' outpost located in the centre of the troubled city of Al Amarah.

He was the driver of a platoon commander's Warrior armoured fighting vehicle.

His platoon was the company's reserve force and was placed on immediate notice to move.

As the main elements of his company were moving into the city to carry out the replenishment, they were re-tasked to fight through a series of enemy ambushes in order to extract a foot patrol that had become pinned down under sustained small arms and heavy machine-gun fire and improvised explosive device and rocket-propelled grenade attack.

Beharry's platoon was tasked over the radio to come to the assistance of the remainder of the company, who were attempting to extract the isolated foot patrol.

Insurgent ambush


As his platoon passed a roundabout, en route to the pinned-down patrol, they became aware that the road to the front was empty of all civilians and traffic - an indicator of a potential ambush ahead.

The platoon commander ordered the vehicle to halt, so that he could assess the situation.

The vehicle was then immediately hit by multiple rocket-propelled grenades.

Eyewitnesses report that the vehicle was engulfed in a number of violent explosions, which physically rocked the 30-tonne Warrior.

As a result of this ferocious initial volley of fire, both the platoon commander and the vehicle's gunner were incapacitated by concussion and other wounds, and a number of the soldiers in the rear of the vehicle were also wounded.

Due to damage sustained in the blast to the vehicle's radio systems, Beharry had no means of communication with either his turret crew or any of the other Warrior vehicles deployed around him.

He did not know if his commander or crewmen were still alive, or how serious their injuries may be.

Own initiative


In this confusing and dangerous situation, on his own initiative, he closed his driver's hatch and moved forward through the ambush position to try to establish some form of communications, halting just short of a barricade placed across the road.

The vehicle was hit again by sustained rocket-propelled grenade attack from insurgent fighters in the alleyways and on rooftops around his vehicle.

Further damage to the Warrior from these explosions caused it to catch fire and fill rapidly with thick, noxious smoke. Beharry opened up his armoured hatch cover to clear his view and orientate himself to the situation.

He still had no radio communications and was now acting on his own initiative, as the lead vehicle of a six Warrior convoy in an enemy-controlled area of the city at night.

e assessed that his best course of action to save the lives of his crew was to push through, out of the ambush.

He drove his Warrior directly through the barricade, not knowing if there were mines or improvised explosive devices placed there to destroy his vehicle.

By doing this he was able to lead the remaining five Warriors behind him towards safety.

As the smoke in his driver's tunnel cleared, he was just able to make out the shape of another rocket-propelled grenade in flight heading directly towards him.

He pulled the heavy armoured hatch down with one hand, whilst still controlling his vehicle with the other.

Head exposed

However, the overpressure from the explosion of the rocket wrenched the hatch out of his grip, and the flames and force of the blast passed directly over him, down the driver's tunnel, further wounding the semi-conscious gunner in the turret.

The impact of this rocket destroyed Beharry's armoured periscope, so he was forced to drive the vehicle through the remainder of the ambushed route, some 1,500 metres long, with his hatch opened up and his head exposed to enemy fire, all the time with no communications with any other vehicle.

During this long surge through the ambushes the vehicle was again struck by rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire.

While his head remained out of the hatch, to enable him to see the route ahead, he was directly exposed to much of this fire, and was himself hit by a 7.62mm bullet, which penetrated his helmet and remained lodged on its inner surface.

Despite this harrowing weight of incoming fire Beharry continued to push through the extended ambush, still leading his platoon until he broke clean.

He then visually identified another Warrior from his company and followed it through the streets of Al Amarah to the outside of the Cimic House outpost, which was receiving small arms fire from the surrounding area.

Once he had brought his vehicle to a halt outside, without thought for his own personal safety, he climbed onto the turret of the still-burning vehicle and, seemingly oblivious to the incoming enemy small arms fire, manhandled his wounded platoon commander out of the turret, off the vehicle and to the safety of a nearby Warrior.

Led to safety

He then returned once again to his vehicle and again mounted the exposed turret to lift out the vehicle's gunner and move him to a position of safety.

Exposing himself yet again to enemy fire he returned to the rear of the burning vehicle to lead the disorientated and shocked dismounts and casualties to safety.

Remounting his burning vehicle for the third time, he drove it through a complex chicane and into the security of the defended perimeter of the outpost, thus denying it to the enemy.

Only at this stage did Beharry pull the fire extinguisher handles, immobilising the engine of the vehicle, dismounted and then moved himself into the relative safety of the back of another Warrior.

Once inside Beharry collapsed from the sheer physical and mental exhaustion of his efforts and was subsequently himself evacuated.

Having returned to duty following medical treatment, on 11 June 2004 Beharry's Warrior was part of a quick reaction force tasked to attempt to cut off a mortar team that had attacked a Coalition Force base in Al Amarah.

As the lead vehicle of the platoon he was moving rapidly through the dark city streets towards the suspected firing point, when his vehicle was ambushed by the enemy from a series of rooftop positions.

During this initial heavy weight of enemy fire, a rocket-propelled grenade detonated on the vehicle's frontal armour, just six inches from Beharry's head, resulting in a serious head injury.

Other rockets struck the turret and sides of the vehicle, incapacitating his commander and injuring several of the crew.

With the blood from his head injury obscuring his vision, Beharry managed to continue to control his vehicle, and forcefully reversed the Warrior out of the ambush area.

The vehicle continued to move until it struck the wall of a nearby building and came to rest.

Beharry then lost consciousness as a result of his wounds.

By moving the vehicle out of the enemy's chosen killing area he enabled other Warrior crews to be able to extract his crew from his vehicle, with a greatly reduced risk from incoming fire.

Despite receiving a serious head injury, which later saw him being listed as very seriously injured and in a coma for some time, his level-headed actions in the face of heavy and accurate enemy fire at short range again almost certainly saved the lives of his crew and provided the conditions for their safe evacuation to medical treatment.

Beharry displayed repeated extreme gallantry and unquestioned valour, despite intense direct attacks, personal injury and damage to his vehicle in the face of relentless enemy action.
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Old 09 Dec 06, 04:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pergite View Post



The full offical citation:
I think he received the Victoria Cross right?

Last edited by Salinator; 09 Dec 06 at 04:34..
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Old 09 Dec 06, 05:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salinator View Post
I think he received the Victoria Cross right?
Correct, its the highest recognition for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Only 1,351 have recived it since it was created in 1856.
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Last edited by Pergite; 09 Dec 06 at 16:00..
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Old 09 Dec 06, 13:08
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Air Force Cross:
  • Cunningham, Jason Dean (USAF)(Afghanistan)
  • Chapman, John (USAF)(Afghanistan)
Distinguished Service Cross:
  • Briggs, Daniel A. (USA) (Iraq)
  • Coffman, James H., Jr. (USA) (Iraq)
  • Hollenbaugh, Donald R. (USA) (Iraq)
  • Mitchell, Mark E. (USA) (Afghanistan)
Navy Cross:
  • Axelson, Matthew G. (USN) (Afghanistan)
  • Chontosh, Brian R. (USMC)(Iraq)
  • Copeland, Willie L., III (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Corbin, Todd (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Dietz, Danny P. (USN) (Afghanistan)
  • Esquibel, Dominic (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Fonseca, Louis E. (US Navy) (Iraq)
  • Kasal, Bradley A. (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Kraft, Jarrett A. (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Lehew, Justin D. (USMC)(Iraq)
  • Martinez, Marco A. (USMC)(Iraq)
  • Mitchell, Robert J., Jr. (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Montoya, Scott C. (USMC) (Iraq)
  • Morel, Brent (USMC)(Iraq)
  • Perez, Joseph B. (USMC)(Iraq)
  • Unidentified Navy SEAL (US Navy) (Afghanistan)
  • Unidentified Navy SEAL (US Navy)(Afghanistan)
  • Unidentified Navy Seal (USN) (Afghanistan)
  • Viggiani, Anthony L. (USMC) (Afghanistan)
  • Workman, Jeremiah W. (USMC) (Iraq)

You can read all these hero's citations here: http://www.homeofheroes.com/valor/02_wot/index.html
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Old 09 Dec 06, 17:01
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Unfortunately, you will likely never know the names of the most decorated veterans of the GWOT, mainly because there are Delta Operators and even som AFO's who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan 4 and 5 times, and earned numerous Bronze and Silver stars during each of their tours.

I recently saw one Major here in CGSC getting his yearbook photo taken with his family. I was only able to quickly discern a Silver Star and a Bronze Star, and I didn't want to query him about them at the time.

There are also a few CIA agents who have been seriously decorated with civilian equivalent awards.

So, I guess the answer is, there is no answer!
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Old 10 Dec 06, 03:28
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Originally Posted by salinator View Post
I think he received the Victoria Cross right?
Yes
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Old 10 Dec 06, 11:22
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I recently heard an interview on BBC with Private Johnson Beharry. He is originally from Grenada and when he came to the UK he described himself as 'a dreadlocked, drug smoking rasta'. As he was passing an Army recruiting office he suddenly decided he was going to change his life and join the army. He went in and the recruiting Sargent took one look at him and asked if he took drugs. He answered yes and was told he would never be allowed to join the army. Determined to prove the man wrong he went home, cut of the dreads, stopped smoking dope and started getting fit.
He went back to the same office, saw the same man, who of course didn't recognise him and joined up.

The rest, as they say, is history!

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Old 11 Dec 06, 01:09
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Originally Posted by Pergite View Post
Correct, its the highest recognition for valour "in the face of the enemy" that can be awarded to members of the British and Commonwealth armed forces. Only 1,351 have recived it since it was created in 1856.
Yes, thank you!

I actually met a friend of his at a pub in Glasgow while on vacation from Iraq, the Snafflebite I think it was. Some of us decided not to go home the last time... We wanted to see Scotland. Anyhoo, a few us hooked and of course proceeded to the nearest pub we could find for a 'real' beer. A group of us, maybe eight, walked in and the bartender yelled out "Here come the Yanks!", or something like that (all in good fun). So the lot of us are sitting there pounding Dragonhead and Guinness, and I strike up a conversation with this cat to my left who looks military. It turns out the man is a Royal Marine Commando on leave, and has been good friends with Gideon since secondary school. Of course I don't know this at the time. Hours pass by, as do the war stories and numerous pints, and we're all having a grand time when he asks if I've ever heard of a soldier named Beharry. Of course I haven't.

We are all drunk at the time when he begins the description of the man, and at this point I so hammered I really can't concentrate... Nor do I really care for that matter. Mikey is stuttering along when he says...blah...blah...Victoria Cross. Of course I sober up right then and there. This is something I have to hear. I know the history of the VC, and anyone awarded this medal is the appitamy of heroism itself. I try and shut the rest of the gang up, but of course, I fail in that endeavour.Mikey tells me the entire story and I'm amazed. I can't believe I'm sitting with a man that is a friend of a VC awardee! Long story short, I asked him if it would be possible to meet him. Of course it's not as we are way to far north and our time was limited. So I did the next best thing. I requested a picture of him being awarded the VC...signed if at all possible.

We all head back to the Sandbox and a couple of weeks pass. Then one day I receive a box from the UK. At first we all thought it was a few bottles of Walker from Mikey. But it was far too light, so most of the guys that initially surrounded me had since disappeared.I open it up and it's a picture of Gideon receiving the VC, and the bloddy thing is signed! Words really cant describe my feelings.

It now hangs in my living room.
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Old 11 Dec 06, 12:36
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Four Canadian soldiers were recently decorated for actions in Afghanistan.

http://www.gg.ca/media/doc.asp?lang=e&DocID=4905

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2006/...ry-valour.html

http://www.mysteriesofcanada.com/Mil...f_military.htm
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