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I'm not a real Cowboy, but I play one in the movies.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Stuff Like This

By MICHAEL CORONADO The Orange County Register

AN HONOR: Marine First Sergeant Bradley A. Kasel, right, receives the Navy Cross from Maj. Gen. Michael R. Lehnert.

CAMP PENDLETON - He was shot seven times. Then 40 pieces of super-heated shrapnel melted into his flesh.

And at three different moments, in nanoseconds laced with adrenaline, confusion, sweat and blood, Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Bradley Kasal took account of his life.

Then he decided it would be OK if he died.

His decision earned him the Navy Cross on Monday.

In November 2004, while serving with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, Kasal rushed into a house in Fallujah where Marines were trapped in a small room. They were pinned down by Iraqi insurgents firing into the house from a higher and superior position.

The first time, after being shot and crawling to safety, Kasal went back out into the line of fire to rescue an injured Marine.

"I knew I was gonna get shot (again)," he said.

Now, after having suffered seven gunshots, Kasal decided to again put his life at risk.

He would use all of the available field dressings to help stop the bleeding of a gunshot wound suffered by a fellow Marine. He decided not to use any of the dressings for himself and instead "bleed out." It just made sense that one of them should survive.

Finally, the insurgent, knowing the injured Marines had no way out, lobbed a grenade into the room. Kasal saw the grenade, and using his own body as a shield, leapt onto his fellow Marine as the grenade exploded.

"I thought the chances of surviving were zero," he said.

But survive he did, his right leg and buttock riddled with bullets and his body stung by shrapnel.

If you live through that kind of ordeal, young Marines forever remember your name, major generals salute you in deference and little boys stand in line to meet an American hero.

On Monday afternoon, all of that happened for Kasal during an honor-laden ceremony.

The Navy Cross capped an emotional week. Kasal's father, Gerald, 69, died of cancer on Sunday, just a day before he was supposed to watch the ceremony via video conference from his home in Iowa.

In the same ceremony, Kasal attained his dream as a young man, getting promoted to sergeant major and taking an oath as he re-enlisted in the Marine Corps. He even reached a milestone Saturday, when he ran a mile and a half on his once-mangled leg.

Following the ceremony, the 39-year-old Oceanside resident spent more than an hour patiently shaking the hands of fellow Marines, active and retired, who lined up to greet him.

"You are an inspiration to every Marine," Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert said to Kasal. Lehnert told the audience of more than 100 that the term "hero" is thrown around loosely in popular society.

But make no mistake he said, Kasal was the real thing.

"Marines past, present and future owe you a debt of gratitude."

Kasal said the most challenging aspect of the ordeal wasn't the 22 surgeries he endured or even fighting the opinions of doctors who suggested he should have his leg amputated.

Instead Kasal said the real pain was knowing the battle would go on without him.

"The most difficult part was being away from the Marines," he said. "My goal is to get deployable again."

9 Comments:

  • At 7:08 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said…

    Kasel deserves a book deal, a movie deal, and free meals for life. God help him if he ever comes to Philly: I'll personally give him a police escort anywhere he goes.

     
  • At 9:42 PM, Anonymous vern said…

    Perhaps I am particularly stupid today, or always, but I don't get the Chely Wright reference...

    Can you explain?

     
  • At 12:14 AM, Blogger Chris Byrne said…

    The story she told behind "Bumper of my SUV" (about her brother) was basically an untrue publicity stunt.

    Worse, she has members of her fan club pretend to be family members of soldiers in Iraq and request the song be played over and over again.

     
  • At 12:29 AM, Anonymous vern said…

    Taken from a description on Chely Wright's Web site:

    ''In June of 2003, I was one of many entertainers, athletes and actors who traveled to the Middle East to entertain the troops. … truly inspirational for me due to the fact that my brother had just served in Iraqi Freedom. Our tour missed him by 10 days. Chris is a Marine. Before he was deployed to the Persian Gulf, my brother sent me a small Marine Corps sticker.

    ''I proudly marched down to my vehicle in my garage and slapped that thing on the back. Most of my motivation for doing that was pride, but a bit of my reasoning was simply that I was scared. My brother was going off to war. I wanted to show my support of this fact …

    ''So, after I returned from that initial trip into Iraq, I was driving down a main drag there in Nashville called West End when something happened. Something obviously moving enough for me to drive straight home and write this song. What you will hear in the song, The Bumper Of My SUV, is the absolute truth. No exaggerations, no poetic license, and truly how it made me feel. I had no intention of ever playing this song for anyone.

    ''I am in no way trying to exploit the situation in the Middle East by writing a country song about it and 'cashing in.' I am simply keeping my promise to about 4,000 young men and women who personally asked a favor of me ... and I humbly said, yes.''

    "Country singer Chely Wright said yesterday she was dismissing the head of her fan club and shutting down a team of volunteers after The Tennessean learned that some of them posed as members of the military or their families to promote her latest song.

    Seventeen members of a handpicked team of fans contacted radio stations around the country asking for more airplay for Wright's pro-military ballad, The Bumper of My SUV. It was all part of an organized campaign by leaders of the fan club who encouraged the team to do such things as ''tell 'em your husband is a marine — whatever it takes.''"
    http://www.tennessean.com/local/archives/04/12/63065885.shtml

    Sounds like some overzealous fan clubbers...

     
  • At 6:42 AM, Blogger SGT Lori said…

    Damn, just DAMN! Kasal rocks. Thanks for posting the story!

     
  • At 6:59 AM, Blogger Cowboy Blob said…

    Thanks for the info, Vern. Nice to see she tried to do the right thing.

     
  • At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Kasel need the Congressional Medal of Honor. You feel me?

     
  • At 7:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I was emailing a Hollywood friend of mine, and I put "Where do we find such men?" as the Subject.

    Then, as I often do, I changed it in the email to "We don't find them. They just show up."

    Bill Smith

     
  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger Ssssteve said…

    Maybe that little piss ant in the picture below this post would like a little meeting with Sgt. maj. Kasal!

     

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